Vacc jpg
the work of vaccination centers, like this one in Dublin, will continue into 2022. photo.

Covid-19 Reaching Into 2022

Authorities at all levels and on both sides of the Atlantic are scrambling to deal with the spread of the Omicron Covid variant as 2021 gives way to 2022.

And the greeting Happy New Year is being expanded to "Happy and Healthy" - with the proviso of "Hopefully."

In Ireland, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said that a new package of financial measures will help protect businesses impacted by the latest Covid restrictions.

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Hospitality, sporting and entertainment venues are bearing the brunt of the new measures as the government tries to minimize the spread of the Omicron variant and protect the health service.

Since last week, pubs and restaurants in the Republic (for North Covid measures see story on Page 4) must close at 8 p.m. Indoor events such as cinema and theatre also have an 8 p.m. curfew as well as a 50 percent capacity or up to 1,000 people. Outdoor events have the same restrictions but can have a capacity of 5,000 people. Weddings are limited to 100 people with a midnight closing. All arrivals into the country will have to take antigen tests for five days.

The measures will run until January 30 with a review on January 11.

“This new package will protect jobs and businesses adversely affected by the recent Covid restrictions,” Mr. Varadkar said.

“The EWSS (Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme) will open to some new businesses and re-open to businesses which had been able to come off the subsidy but are now back in difficulty.

“The rules for the CRSS (Covid Restrictions Support Scheme) will be relaxed so that many more businesses, whose turnover is down due to government regulations, can receive the payment. It will also be paid to affected business that decide to close because they can not operate viably with restricted hours.”  

Varadkar added: “We’ve already extended the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme to the end of January at the full rate to help pay the wages and encourage employers to keep people on the payroll. The Pandemic Unemployment Payment has been reopened to new entrants and re-entrants who cannot work due to restrictions.

“We have introduced sectoral schemes for aviation, sporting bodies and the arts. We know these are really difficult times for many businesses, but as we approach the end of 2021, I want to thank Irish companies for co-operating with the public health advice, for keeping the public and their own staff safe, and for your perseverance in the face of a relentless pandemic.”