Green Party spokesperson for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Steven Matthews TD, has called for the Government to increase the value of the Business Continuity Voucher and to permit it to be used to help businesses set up safe social distancing measures once lockdown measures begin to be lifted.
Deputy Matthews said: “We are still in the midst of this crisis and first and foremost we need to be focused on getting through this period. However, we need to start thinking at how the country will look once lockdown measures have started being lifted and we can begin to return to as close to normal as possible.
“Yesterday in the Dail, I asked the Minister for Finance if the Government would consider expanding the remit of the Business Continuity Voucher, available through Local Enterprise offices, to reflect what will be required if we are to begin reopening shops and businesses. Currently the voucher can be used for consultancy and expert advice to assist businesses to adapt to new practices. From speaking with business owners, there is a clear concern about how they can create a safe environment for staff and customers when they are in a position to reopen.
“We don’t know exactly when businesses will be in a position to reopen but the contingency plans for that process need to be put in place now. I believe the Government needs to provide supports for small businesses in particular to implement safety measures such as masks, hand gel and screens that will provide a safer environment for anyone on the premises. Many businesses are already suffering from serious liquidity issues and the added expense of implementing safety infrastructure would be another bill that some will struggle to pay.
“While I welcome that the Minister acknowledged the concern and insisted that it is on the Government’s radar, I encourage the Government to treat the matter with urgency and if it is not to be funded through the existing business continuity scheme, that it is provided for in a clear and urgent manner.
“As businesses begin to re-open, support and advice will be needed to ensure they do so safely and in line with recommendations from health professionals.”
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