People with businesses need to prepare for possible closure until end of March, Tánaiste says

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PEOPLE with businesses need to be prepared for the possibility that they may not reopen until the end of March, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has warned.

It came as he said up to 500,000 people may end up on Pandemic Unemployment Payment supports as many businesses have had to close amid tough Covid-19 restrictions.

But he added: “Speaking as the minister for enterprise to people who run a business – if I was running a business now I would be thinking that it’s a probability that I’ll be closed until the end of March.”

Later he said: “In case I put the heart across people we will review the situation on the 30th of January and make decisions on restrictions then.”

However he added: “The situation is deteriorating. It is very bad. It is going to get worse in our hospitals and ICUs.

“We’re not going to be out of the woods by the end of January and that’s why we’re putting in place the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme and the weekly payment for businesses that are closed at least until the 31st of March in case things go on that long.

“I think anybody in the business community needs to be prepared for that possibility.”