CEO Update: Reopening roadmap, further economic measures and a national protocol for the safe return to work
We are still in doubt as to how much will be revealed in today's Government announcement and it is possible that there will be other communications over the weekend, but hope it might be helpful to set out a few areas which have been subject to speculation.
While we await confirmation following this afternoon’s cabinet meeting, all signs are pointing to extreme reticence for any lifting of restrictions. In our political engagement, we have gleaned that the Reopening Roadmap will get some articulation during today’s announcement, including the introduction of a 3-week phasing pattern. It appears that Government’s health experts have expressed the need for this 3-week pattern to judge progress on the Covid health objectives and that this will continue until September. This is disappointing, devoid of any consideration for the cost to people’s livelihoods along the present and future socio-economic experience of the nation. I also understand that the roadmap, rather than adopting a sectoral approach may be based on the work environment, for example outdoor work, which may be a positive for sectors such as construction.
We have also learnt of a further announcement on economic measures is to be expected. Contrary to international trends, here the Covid economic measures have been iterative rather than big bang or bazooka. The data from the Strategic bank this week points to low uptake on loans – this is because the interest is too high and criteria too restrictive. Close to zero percent loans are available elsewhere in Europe for business including Germany, France, Italy and the UK giving other jurisdictions a competitive advantage.
This week we continued positive meetings on the development of a national protocol for the safe return to work established through the Labour Employer Economic Forum. We would hope to have an agreed national protocol soon which will be a confidence boost for employees, employers and the trade unions with a set of principles on all areas of the workplace.
The reopening agenda is what we have been prioritising in political and stakeholder engagement also significantly penetrating this week’s media on the issue through RTE News, Prime Time, Morning Ireland as well as Newstalk, Virgin and the print media. To set the pace next week, the Irish Times will carry an opinion piece from me in the business pages on Monday pressing a need for decisive action for business.
To sum up, the only way to tackle the twin crisis of public health and public finances is to reopen the economy in a phased manner but with significant pace.