A Sustainable Re-Opening Must Be The Objective, says County Wexford Chamber following announcement on end of Level Five Restrictions

County Wexford Chamber welcomes this evening’s (27 November) announcement from Government regarding the end of Level Five Restrictions which will allow the re-opening of parts of the economy from next Wednesday the 2 December.

Speaking after the announcement, Chamber Operations Manager Emma Dunphy said,

“This evening’s announcement from Government will be widely welcomed by our members”.

The importance of the Christmas period for local economies cannot be understated. In the lead-up to this evening’s announcement our members have been strongly supporting shop local campaigns in their communities. We call on the wider community to work with us and be conscious of limiting social contacts throughout the Christmas period.

The Government has set out a timeline for the re-opening of the different impacted sectors over the coming weeks. We urge our members and the wider business community to look to the “Work Safely Protocol” and the updated HSE guidance, using face masks, PPE and proper ventilation as appropriate. By protecting staff and consumers, we will limit the chances of virus transmission and a potential third wave.

As we proceed towards a lower level of restrictions, we want to remind the wider business community to avoid complacency and continue to interpret the restrictions conservatively, ensuring that any unnecessary congregation is reduced. If staff can work from home, then that is the only place they should be working from.

Finally, as a network, we continue to have concerns about the medium-term strategy for ensuring that the re-opening of local economies is sustainable. The “sawtooth” scenario we previously warned about (involving a series of stop-go restrictions in response to virus transmission) is not a sensible approach to managing the economy.

That scenario leads to significant additional business costs associated with reopening and restocking. With limited capital reserves, and no appetite for new debt under ongoing uncertainty, many businesses will not be able to continue trading after a further round of closures in early 2021.

Most importantly Government must ensure that:

  • Public health authorities are adequately resourced so that we can limit the consequences of future outbreaks.
  • We implement an effective programme which tests, traces, and isolates new cases as they emerge in the community.
  • Early local interventions are used to quickly restrict future outbreaks, and
  • We develop sufficient capacity within the health service to cope with increased demands on our critical care services”