Government has no time to waste and must support town centres during summer reopening, says Chambers Ireland

Mar 30, 2021

Following a meeting of Chamber CEOs, Chambers Ireland today (30 March 2021) calls on Government to use the time wisely and ensure we can plan for a sustainable reopening.

Speaking this evening, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said,

“With this lockdown lasting much longer than anticipated, our members are experiencing many difficulties and justifiable frustrations.

Chambers Ireland appreciates how difficult it is to balance the reopening with virus suppression because we know that the business community cannot face another brief reopening, followed by spike in infections, and a further lockdown.

But Government must recall that individuals, businesses, and local economies are all facing challenges too.”

The following recommendations come from dialogue with our Chamber Chief Executives.

Suppress the Virus Locally

“To get us through the summer, public health teams need resources to test, trace and isolate so that we can identify sources of infection. We have no time to waste and focused government action is required to suppress the virus in locations where transmission is still high.”

Embrace Ambition in Urban Centres

“We need to see Government, local authorities and elected officials embrace ambition, by re-imagining our high street and urban centres. This will include everything from pedestrian-friendly reforms that incentivise ‘dwell-time’ to enabling businesses to use streets and footpaths for outdoor dining.”

Ventilate

“Finally, communities also need more guidance and supports on how to reduce transmission in homes and shared space. New strains of the virus bring new challenges. Guidance on how to properly ventilate buildings is urgently needed.”

Clear guidance on duration of financial supports

“When a reopening finally occurs, many businesses will see their lockdown debts threaten their long-term viability, government must take action to ensure that those which can survive, do survive.”

Ends

For further information contact Jonathan Baxter, Communications and Media Executive on 086 608 1605 or email jonathan.baxter@chambers.ie  

Notes to Editor

RECOMMENDATIONS

Town Centre Adaptation

  • We must use the coming weeks to adapt our urban environments to support a viable and sustained reopening of our towns, cities, and shared spaces.
  • We need to see an expansion of financial resources, paired with political support, for outdoor dining, active transport, and pedestrian-friendly spaces.
  • Creating safe and attractive spaces for people will increase footfall and dwell time, supporting retail and local businesses throughout our cities and towns.

Improving Virus Control Measures

  • Expansion of walk-in testing centres.
  • Resources for retrospective contact tracing.
  • Investment in appropriate ventilation infrastructure and guidance.

Financial Supports

  • Too few businesses qualify for support, their availability needs to be expanded, because debts are mounting for many businesses.
  • If they are available, the supports available rarely offset the costs of lockdown – given the scale of economic shock facing the most vulnerable sectors and the length of time they have been impacted.
  • Wage supports, commercial rates waivers and debt warehousing need to be extended.

Government must provide extensions immediately so that vulnerable sectors can have confidence that they will be supported in the reopening, as well as the recovery.

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