Urgent economic and societal need to increase momentum towards safe reopening
Following the Government’s announcement on Covid restrictions last night, Ibec again communicated our disappointment at the slow progress in reopening generally and that greater certainty on reopening milestones is still needed.
A crucial principle missing from the announcement was the need for business to be given as much advance notice as possible to allow adequate lead time to activate supply chains and put measures in place to reopen safely. In particular, Government needs to map out how further reopening will develop in line with key vaccination milestones.
It was a great disappointment for the retail sector that “click and collect” were not allowed to recommence immediately for non-essential businesses. Ibec will continue to urge Government to keep the measures under ongoing review and to reconsider further adjustments to restrictions during April, based on health outcome indicators and vaccination progress.
Another area of great concern for Ireland’s reputation as an open economy is the reporting that more countries may be added to the list of those from which travellers must undergo mandatory quarantining upon arriving in Ireland. The current quarantine requirements have already caused severe disruption to essential business travel and the extension of the list of countries covered would significantly exacerbate these challenges. Ibec has been conducting ongoing communications with the Government on this matter and I reiterated Ibec’s concerns in a letter today to Simon Coveney TD, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defence. It can be read in full below.
It is positive to see some unwinding of Covid restrictions over the coming weeks, particularly in construction. Ibec also welcomes the inclusion of widespread antigen testing as part of the toolkit to establish who is infectious as opposed to just determining who has been infected.
Another significant development yesterday was that the Tánaiste, in his role as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, has asked the Labour Employer Economic Forum (LEEF), which Ibec is a member of, to set up a study to review collective bargaining and the industrial relations landscape in Ireland. This comes as we are observing a growing international trend on the creation of longer-term value for stakeholders, as well as shareholders, by business. The challenges facing our society, business and the workforce require structured Government engagement with employers and employees. It is therefore right that we review the effectiveness of our structures, in a manner consistent with Irish business competitiveness, fairness, and the dynamism in our labour market.
As always, please do get in touch if you have any feedback.