Wexford People

Cham­ber urges staff and em­ploy­ers to get vac­cine

- By DAVID LOOBY

COUNTY WEX­FORD CHAM­BER is urg­ing all em­ploy­ers and their em­ploy­ees to be vac­ci­nated as soon as it’s their turn in or­der to de­feat the Covid-19 virus.

County Wex­ford Cham­ber Op­er­a­tions Man­ager Emma Dun­phy said: ‘Vac­ci­na­tion is one of the main ways to pro­tect our com­mu­ni­ties and busi­nesses to re­duce the pos­si­bil­ity of com­mu­nity spread once our econ­omy is re­opened.’

Fol­low­ing cab­i­net’s lat­est an­nounce­ment on Level 5 re­stric­tions, Ms Dun­phy urged gov­ern­ment to ex­pand fi­nan­cial sup­ports for im­pacted busi­nesses.

Ms Dun­phy said: ‘The gov­ern­ment’s an­nounce­ment of tighter re­stric­tions will not have been the start to the new year many busi­nesses and lo­cal economies were hop­ing for. How­ever, with in­fec­tion rates and hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tions be­yond any­thing we have seen through­out 2020, the ad­di­tional re­stric­tions an­nounced are es­sen­tial if we are to limit in­fec­tion and loss of life.’

‘Our worst fears for the pan­demic will likely come to pass in the next few weeks, so we all must work col­lec­tively to limit our move­ments so that we can keep each other safe and re­duce the rate of in­fec­tion.’

She said while every­one must do all that they can to sup­port the col­lec­tive ef­fort to keep peo­ple safe, there is frus­tra­tion through­out com­mu­ni­ties that the county finds it­self in this po­si­tion again.

‘Re­ly­ing on “per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity” to man­age be­hav­iour dur­ing a pan­demic must be aban­doned. Our ex­pe­ri­ence of re-open­ing the econ­omy and ex­ist­ing along­side the virus has ev­i­denced that this can­not work with­out sys­tem­atic en­force­ment and ap­proach. For the re­stric­tions to be ef­fec­tive, and for there to be any hope of sus­tain­ably re-open­ing parts of the econ­omy when it is safe to do so, gov­ern­ment must en­sure that ap­pro­pri­ate checks and bal­ances are in place.’

‘The com­ing weeks and months are likely to be the most dif­fi­cult we have ex­pe­ri­enced, but the end is in sight. When Bud­get 2021 was pub­lished last Oc­to­ber, there was an as­sump­tion that no vac­cine would be avail­able this year. Thank­fully, roll-out has al­ready be­gun and we can now en­vi­sion nor­mal­ity sooner than might have been ex­pected. Gov­ern­ment fi­nances should be well placed to sup­port the econ­omy in the in­ter­ven­ing pe­riod.’

Bear­ing this in mind, she said it is im­per­a­tive that gov­ern­ment ur­gently ex­pands and in­creases the sup­ports avail­able to im­pacted busi­nesses. ‘We must also move to fo­cus on the exit strat­egy for vi­able busi­nesses, which have been sur­viv­ing based on the gov­ern­ment sup­ports avail­able but will need some breath­ing space to re­build their busi­nesses once the worst of the threat sub­sides.’

With Ex­che­quer Re­turns in a bet­ter po­si­tion than ex­pected, the avail­abil­ity of low-in­ter­est fi­nance through the ECB, and Bud­get 2021 hav­ing been pre­pared on a very cau­tious ba­sis, Ms Dun­phy said we can­not af­ford to un­der-re­act to the chal­lenge fac­ing us.

‘With­out these in­ter­ven­tions, the grow­ing debt bur­den ex­pe­ri­enced by busi­nesses will likely trig­ger a wave of in­sol­ven­cies and job losses that will do per­ma­nent dam­age to lo­cal economies through­out the coun­try, po­ten­tially co­in­cid­ing with when we are able to re­turn to some form of nor­mal­ity. Hav­ing in­curred a deficit of €19 bil­lion to sup­port the econ­omy in 2020, gov­ern­ment must con­tinue to in­vest in the econ­omy so we en­sure vi­able busi­nesses do not fall at the fi­nal hur­dle.’

‘We call on our mem­bers and the wider busi­ness com­mu­nity in County Wex­ford to do what they can to sup­port their staff, en­sur­ing they work from home if they can do so, work with gov­ern­ment to en­sure these new re­stric­tions are im­pact­ful, and to make use of ev­ery fi­nan­cial sup­port avail­able. Fi­nally, Gov­ern­ment and the EU must do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to re­sources and ac­cel­er­ate the vac­ci­na­tion pro­gramme, pro­vid­ing a much needed boost in morale to the econ­omy and so­ci­ety.’

 ??  ?? County Wex­ford Cham­ber Op­er­a­tions Man­ager Emma Dun­phy.
County Wex­ford Cham­ber Op­er­a­tions Man­ager Emma Dun­phy.

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