Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

09.02 20 Oct 2020


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The Housing Minister says the ban on evictions will continue for the duration of level five restrictions.

Darragh O'Brien says he wants such a measure to kick in 'automatically' whenever there's a lockdown.

The second lockdown is going to cost the state around €1.2 billion in increased social welfare payments alone, with well over 100,000 more people expected to be out of work while the strict measures are in place.

Alongside changes to the pandemic unemployment payment and the wage subsidy scheme, the Government agreed that the moratorium on evictions will be reinstated.

Legislation will be brought before the Dáil to implement the measure - and Minister Darragh O'Brien told Newstalk Breakfast it would kick back in "automatically" if we have to go into lockdown again in the future.

He said: “The reason I’m bringing forward additional measures to Cabinet this morning is obviously in level five there’s a restriction on movement within the 5km.

“We want to ensure we’re doing everything we can to restrict their movements. Having people leaving one tenancy, leaving another, viewing properties… would not be in the public health interest.”

He said he hopes the legislation will be able to pass through the Dáil and Seanad this week.

Level five

The Government's decision to move to level came just two weeks after they rejected NPHET's previous advice to do so.

Minister O'Brien defended that initial move to level three, saying those restrictions 'weren't insignificant'.

In terms of level five, he said: “This is a really tough measure - it will hurt people.

"But what we’re doing this for is in the interest of public health and to save lives."

The World Health Organisation has said lockdowns should not be the only part of a country's coronavirus strategy.

Minister O'Brien insisted level five is not just being used to get the house in order in terms of contact tracing and testing.

He said: "We’re also doing this because the numbers are rising at a very significant rate.

"In the last seven days, we’ve tested over 114,000 people. Rightly so there were questions a few weeks ago about why we weren’t reaching 100,000 people.

“If you look at where testing has come from and where it’s at now, anyone who looks will agree it has increased at a really significant rate. Can we do always do more? Yes we can. Can we strive to do more? Yes we can.

“This [lockdown] is to protect lives... these decisions are not taken lightly."

He said a key aim for now is to protect capacity in the health service, and that everyone would like a 'degree of normality' to return before Christmas so the retail sector can get back trading.

Main image: File photo of Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien. Picture by: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

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