Tánaiste Leo Varadkar
The Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has confirmed that the current lockdown restrictions will be extended in County Kildare, in a statement announcing that further business grants will be available for companies in the county hit by the Covid-19 shutdown.
He announced that the Government will "provide further assistance to businesses in Kildare, following on from today’s decision to extend restrictions.
The Tánaiste said: “I realise how disappointing today’s news will be for the people of Kildare. It has been a devastating few months for business owners, their staff and families. By extending these restrictions now, we will avoid further, more damaging measures later on. We must do everything we can to protect people. The people of Kildare are making a sacrifice on behalf of the entire country. I recognise that and we are redoubling our efforts to help businesses.”
One third of the country's 1,311 cases of Covid-19 over the last fortnight have occurred in County Kildare. NPHET is understood to have yesterday advised the Cabinet to ease restrictions, brought in a fortnight ago in Kildare, Laois and Offaly, in the latter two counties only.
No further details on the length of the restriction extension or whether any of its conditions would be eased, were contained in Mr Varadkar's statement. A full announcement from Cabinet is expected later today.
The raft of measures to assist Kildare businesses, announced this afternoon, are in addition to extra measures announced last week, and include:
Restart Grant top up: Kildare businesses will receive a further 20% top-up to the Restart Plus Grant, equivalent to a 40% uplift overall, bringing the new minimum grant to €5,600 and the maximum grant to €35,000. Increased Enterprise Agency Assistance: The Local Enterprise Office in Kildare will step up assistance to impacted businesses. One to one specialist expertise and mentoring will be provided to impacted businesses, helping them reassess their financial plans. A virtual ‘Sustaining Business’ open day will be held early next week.
Marketing Grants: Marketing grants under the Technical Assistance for Micro Exporters (TAME) programme will be reinforced to help businesses to get their message out that they are open for business. Up to €2,500 is available. A publicity campaign will be run locally to ensure businesses are aware of all the funding options available to them.
Applications prioritised: Applications from Kildare for all existing schemes will continue to be prioritised.
The Tánaiste said: “I’m particularly concerned about small businesses and those in the hospitality sector. I have asked the Local Enterprise Office to make a list of recommendations for further measures that Government can take to help businesses in Kildare to maximise trade over the next two weeks. I look forward to their recommendations. Government will do everything we can to help.”
Meanwhile, Kildare Chamber CEO Allan Shine has called for a tranche of funding intended to boost tourism in Kildare, Laois and Offaly to instead be redirected as a matter of urgency to the Kildare hospitality industry. It is understood that the restrictions are starting to bite in some sectors of the county's hospitality industry, with layoffs of staff occurring in the sector this week.