I wanted to update you on measures taken by the Government to support people at this time. The National Public Health Emergency Team is continuously monitoring the actions taken and looking at ways to update these if necessary. Please do share the information below with your neighbours and colleagues so that everyone has the information they need. I remain available via email or phone so please let me know if you have any questions or require support.
The following actions have been taken today and will last until the 19th of April, on the expert advice of the Chief Medical Officer and the National Public Health Emergency Team:
All theatres, clubs, gyms/leisure centres, hairdressers, betting shops, marts, markets, casinos, bingo halls, libraries and other similar outlets are to shut;
All hotels to limit occupancy to essential non-social and non-tourist reasons;
All non-essential retail outlets are to close to members of the public and all other retail outlets are to implement physical distancing;
All cafes and restaurants are to limit supply to take away food or delivery;
All sporting events are cancelled, including those behind closed doors;
All playgrounds and holiday/caravan parks will close;
All places of worship are to restrict numbers entering at any one time to ensure adequate physical distancing;
All organised social indoor and outdoor events of any size are not to take place.
People should stay home as much as possible, work from home if they can, and only leave home to go to work if there is no alternative;
Only go to the shops for essential supplies, for medical or dental appointments, to care for others or to take physical exercise;
Social events or gatherings involving more than 4 people that have not already been cancelled should be cancelled;
Non-essential indoor visits to other people’s homes should be avoided. Social gatherings of individuals outdoors should be no more than 4, unless from the same household.
No unnecessary travel should take place within the country or overseas.
Essential retail services such as supermarkets will remain open
Your welfare entitlements
COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment is a new payment for employees and self-employed people who are unemployed due to COVID-19. The payment will rise to a flat rate of €350 per week and lasts for a period of 6 weeks. The application form is available by emailing email@example.com or ringing 1890 800 024. There are also forms available from my office.
A temporary wage subsidy is being introduced of 70% of take home pay up to a maximum weekly tax-free amount of €410 per week to help affected companies keep paying their employees. This is the equivalent of €500 per week before tax. Revenue will provide employers with further guidance on the operation of the scheme.
If your employer reduces your hours to 3 days or fewer per week from your normal full-time hours, you can apply for a Short Time Work Support payment through MyWelfare.ie or contacting your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.
If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 or are suspected of having COVID-19 and are medically required to self-isolate, you can get an increased Illness Benefit of €350 per week without having to wait 6 days during two weeks of self-isolation or the entirety of your medically certified absence from work. Information about how to apply is available on gov.ie or you can call 1890 800 024 or (01) 248 1398. You will require a medical certificate from your GP.
If you have coronavirus symptoms or you have been medically required to self-isolate, you should not visit an Intreo Centre or local Social Welfare Branch Office in person.
Support for mortgage-holders
A series of measures to support people impacted by Covid-19 have been announced by the banking sector. These include:
Flexible arrangements, including a payment break for mortgages and other loans. Customers affected by COVID-19 must contact their bank to discuss the flexibility available to them, including the possibility of a payment break of up to 3 months. Non-bank mortgage lenders and credit servicing firms have also announced their support for this measure.
Support for buy-to-let bank customers with tenants affected by COVID 19 – customers with rental property in which the tenants are adversely impacted by COVID-19 will also be provided with flexibility including with an opportunity to seek a payment break of up to 3 months, which will allow them to exercise due levels of forbearance to their tenants
In addition applications for payment breaks as a result of COVID-19 will not affect credit records.
Support for renters
The Government is introducing legislation to prevent both the termination of residential tenancies and any rent increases for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis.
The banks have also said they will support buy-to-let bank customers with tenants affected by COVID 19 with an opportunity to seek a payment break of up to three months – so they can in turn offer forbearance to their tenants.
Rent Supplement is also available as a short-term income support to those in the private rented sector who are experiencing difficulty paying their rent.
Support for utility bills
A ban on disconnections of domestic customers for non-payment to the gas and electricity suppliers has been issued. Suppliers have a number of emergency provisions are in place to assist Pay As You Go customers.
Banking and Credit Measures
All the banks have announced that they will offer flexibility to their customers, and they may be able to provide payment holidays or emergency working capital facilities.
A deferral of up to 3-months on loan repayments will be available to many businesses.
Minister Paschal Donohoe has agreed the following measures with the main banks:
Small businesses will receive a three month break from rates payments, which has been agreed with each local authority (Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council in this case)
Contactless payments limit raised to €50 to avoid use of physical cash
Financial supports for business, including a €200m Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland Working Capital scheme; a €200m Rescue and Restructuring Scheme available through Enterprise Ireland for vulnerable but viable firms; the maximum loan available from Microfinance Ireland has been increased from €25,000 to €50,000 (these loans are now interest free with no repayments for 6 months); Local Enterprise Offices in every county will be providing vouchers from €2,500 up to €10,000; a Finance in Focus grant of €7,200 will be available to Enterprise Ireland and Údarás na Gaeltachta clients.
Extended time to collect payments at post offices
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has made arrangements with An Post that post offices are to hold social welfare payments for an extended period. All post office payments will be available for collection for 90 days after they are first due for collection.
Important phone numbers
HSE Live: 1850 24 1850
National Ambulance Service: 01 463 1624/26
Nutgrove Intreo Centre: (01)6732000
Apply for COVID-19 Payment or Illness Benefit: 1890 800 024 or (01) 248 1398