Jack Quann
Jack Quann

09.15 18 Sep 2020


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Minister Catherine Martin says any COVID-19 restrictions announced for Dublin must strike a balance between lives and livelihoods.

But she says she will seek additional supports for businesses affected.

The Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht says the Government's priority is saving lives.

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It comes as the Cabinet is expected to approve moving Dublin to level three of restrictions later on Friday.

Some additional restrictions are expected on top of the level three guidelines - including an extra measure such as a ban on indoor dining for restaurants.

Minister Martin told Newstalk Breakfast: "Obviously health has to come first.

"The number of cases of COVID and the level of hospitalisations and deaths, we're being told, will increase exponentially in the coming weeks unless we take measures now to reduce our contacts.

"We must stop the virus taking a hold of this country, we must prioritise saving lives.

"I obviously have huge empathy for the businesses who are already on their knees".

On just nine cases detected in restaurant settings, she said: "We've also been told that if we don't follow the guidelines, NPHET modelling indicates 500 to 1,000 cases per day by the 14th of October, with 50% to 60% of those in Dublin.

"And we will see very large daily cases count, and it's our most vulnerable who are at risk here and any decision we make is about saving lives - and that ultimately protects our economy.

"And if the health advice is compelling, then that's what the Government will listen to".

"If the experts are saying there's a danger there with people gathering, then we have to listen to the experts.

"The decisions we take now will ultimately save lives - that's where we are right now with this pandemic."

COVID-19 restrictions 'must strike a balance between lives and livelihoods' - Martin

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"As a Minister for sectors that are being horrifically impacted by this pandemic, I will be looking for - if a decision is taken today - I'll be looking for some strong financial supports.

"We saw it was done in Kildare, Offally and Laois - but we need to strike a balance I believe between lives and livelihoods.

"Many sectors in my department are going through a horrific time."

"No decision has been taken yet, but the situation is quite grave in Dublin and there's no denying that", she added.

Meanwhile the head of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, Adrian Cummins, has warned some 50,000 people will lose their jobs if the Government proceeds with elements of additional COVID-19 restrictions on the capital.

Adrian Cummins told Newstalk Breakfast the industry will not survive.

He said earlier: "If the Cabinet sign off on this recommendation from NPHET, effectively our industry - hospitality - will go into lockdown as of midnight tonight if media reports are correct.

"This is an industry that has done the right thing, we're regulated, we've regulated and inspected environments - and the data shows that we're not the problem, the problem is in households".

Asked about nine outbreaks being attributed to restaurants, he said: "The facts are the facts... The Government seem to be starting at the bottom of the list and working its way up to the very, very top.

"And our industry, about 50,000 people will lose their jobs this evening if the Cabinet go ahead with this decision.

"Outdoor dining is not viable for our industry, we've tried it, we've done it during the last lockdown in April.

"Many, many small businesses will not recover from this announcement".

Main image: Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin in Brookes Hotel, Dublin in June 2020. Picture by: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

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