Business, employers' groups react to Covid-19 measures

Updated / Thursday, 12 Mar 2020 13:53

The Restaurant Association of Ireland was among the groups reacting to the Government announcement, calling on its members to comply with the new measures

Business and worker representative bodies have been reacting to the Government's decision to close schools and cultural institutions, as well as limit large gatherings of people.

There has been broad support for the move - though some have raised questions about the finer detail of the implementation.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions said it was essential that workers and employers comply with the public health advice issued.

However it also said that front-line workers - including medical staff - cannot work from home.

It also noted that the closure of schools and crèches will raise questions around childcare.

Business group Ibec said that firms will support the new measures, and called on employers to do their part to deal the spread of Covid-19 - including the use of remote working where possible.

Ibec CEO Danny McCoy also called on the Government to support businesses, saying there would be "severe disruption to enterprise and the State needs to be flexible in supporting the cash flow needs of businesses to avoid large scale job losses."

Under the measures announced today cafés and restaurants can stay open, however they are being encouraged to take 'social distancing’ practices to protect staff and the public.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland urged its members to comply with the announcement - saying that the "safety of the public is the number one concern right now".

RAI CEO Adrian Cummins said every business owner should "step up to the plate in this moment of national solidarity" and "do the right thing".

The Health Products Regulatory Authority said it was continuing to monitor the situation, but at present there had been no reports of shortages or supply disruptions across Europe.

"Biopharmaceutical companies, as a matter of routine, build resilience into their supply chains," it said in a statement - adding that it was satisfied the industry was "doing all it can to minimise and manage the risk of disruption to the supply of medicines."

Insurance Ireland said it was working to ensure the sector was prepared for the "current and potential future developments" around Covid-19.

It said the body, and its members, were working with the Government to ensure the industry could continue to work effectively - and maintain access for customers.

Retail Ireland, which represents large retailers here, has said that all supply chains are operating as normal.

It has assured consumers that there is no need to stockpile foods or other products. 

The organisation said that it has consulted its members and detailed contingency plans are in place to ensure that supermarket shelve remains stocked.

A spokesperson for Retail Ireland said its members are working closely with Government.

The Licensed Vintners Association, which represents pubs in Dublin, has called for clarity around how its members can implement the measures announced today.

Pubs are permitted to remain open, however it says it would like further guidance on how they can implement social distancing, as well as the 100-person limit on indoor gatherings.

It is also looking for details on how the Government will mitigate against the financial impact the sector is facing.

Meanwhile, the biopharmaceutical industry has said no reports of shortages or supply disruptions of medicines marketed in the EU due to coronavirus have so far been received. 

A spokesman for the industry said that biopharmaceutical companies, as a matter of routine, build resilience into their supply chains. 

He said the industry continues to monitor the situation closely. 

"It is satisfied that it is doing all it can to minimise and manage the risk of disruption to the supply of medicines," the spokesman said. 

"The industry, in Europe and globally, is fast-tracking collaborative research to develop vaccines and treatments in the fight against the virus. Irish scientists are contributing to the global search for vaccines and treatments," he added.

The Irish Farmers' Association has said it supports the Government's measures, adding that a "collective effort" will be required to deal with the challenge of Covid-19.

Its president Tim Cullinan said the agricultural industry will "play its part, as it always has, with others to keep the supply chain operating."