Allan Shine, Kildare Chamber CEO
The chief executive of Kildare Chamber has predicted the latest lockdown will cause severe and permanent damage to Kildare business.
Restrictive measures are due to be reintroduced in counties Kildare, Laois and Offaly from midnight tonight due to the recent spike in cases in the three counties.
According to a statement from Allan Shine, Kildare Chamber CEO, "This evening's announcement by Government will cause an economic meltdown for the region.
"The Government have failed business in the region. Our membership of 400 members who employ over 38,000 people were in the process of restarting their businesses, re-employing people along with upskilling and reskilling the workforce to react to the economic environment we all face. One of our large hotel members has received a huge amount of cancellations in their business which now puts their very operational viability in jeopardy immediately and another large resort has questioned in the point of staying open with these new and bizarre rules. There has been absolutely no engagement or consultation from NPHET, the HSE or anyone in Government."
Over the past 14 days 292 cases of Covid-19 have arisen in Kildare, Laois and Offaly. Under the new regulations for the county, which are initially set to last a fortnight, travel into and out of the county will be restricted to essential journeys only. Sports have been called off, cafes, restaurants and pubs must offer take-away or outdoor dining only and hotels cannot accommodate tourists.
"This announcement whilst mentioned throughout the day still come as a complete and utter shock to businesses," added Mr Shine. "We are at pains to understand why NPHET and Government could not take the stance to order a comprehensive sweep of community testing in the areas affected in Kildare, Laois and Offaly. Its incredible there is not testing area in the county with a population of over 220,000 people with suspect cases having to travel to Dublin for testing, some by public transport. Community Testing would inform government very quickly if Covid-19 is indeed in the community. Then and only then should the discussions of lockdown be taking place.
"What is very frustrating is the lack of engagement by Government with the key stakeholders in the region. We need constructive daily dialogue with Government going forward to ensure we exit this lockdown as quickly as possible. Public health is and will always be the number one focus. The economy must be a key focus also, businesses are on a cliff edge and this imposed lockdown will close many permanently."