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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
By Dominic McGrath, PA

Government rules out return of pandemic unemployment payment

The Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) will not be reintroduced alongside the new measures to tackle the surge in Covid-19.

Despite demands from opposition politicians earlier, the Government said on Tuesday evening that the PUP will not be reintroduced alongside the new measures.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin on Tuesday evening announced new guidance designed to address a major rise in Covid-19 cases.

Pubs, nightclubs and restaurants in Ireland will have a midnight closing time from Thursday, as part of the raft of measures.

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said: “This isn’t like a previous lockdown where the entirety of the economy is closed.”

“This is a curfew, not closure,” she said.

She said that the hospitality industry would still require staff, despite the new measures.

“One of the major problems facing businesses at the moment is that they can’t get staff,” Ms Humphreys said.

“There are no plans to reopen PUP at this point.”

“I do accept that nightclubs are impacted by the midnight closing time. But they will be able to avail of supports, such as the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme.”

“There are a lot of opportunities out there at the moment,” she stressed.

“We have seen the signs up saying ‘staff wanted’.”

Ms Humphreys also said that she anticipated that some venues may be able to adapt the new rules.

“Some venues will adapt to the 12 o’clock closing time and still keep some of their staff employed,” she told reporters.

She said that social welfare supports remain available for anyone who does lose their job.

Earlier, Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy said that the Pandemic Unemployment Payment should be re-instated.

There are already concerns that some parts of the hospitality sector may struggle under the new closing time of midnight.

The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) called on Tuesday on the Government to immediately reintroduce Covid supports for the late-night sector.

Donall O’Keeffe, chief executive of the LVA, said: “We were told that if we waited until the majority of the public was vaccinated we would be able to get back to trading. Well, we waited and that wasn’t enough.”

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