THE Taoiseach has said it is “far too early” to say what type of Christmas people are facing — but Cork Chamber says businesses needs clarity soon on what to expect over the festive season.
Micheál Martin said yesterday the Government was focusing on making level 5 restrictions work to slow the spread of Covid-19, and that he wanted to wait until the end of November before making decisions about the festive period.
“It’s far too early to say what type of a Christmas we will be experiencing,” he said, adding that he had noticed a significant change in people’s mood.
“I think people want this to work and if we get the numbers really down, we can look to managing it then for the next number of months.”
Cork Chamber CEO Conor Healy agreed the focus was on getting case numbers down, but said businesses ‘need clarity as soon as possible’.
“We’re just over a week into the level 5 restrictions,” he said. “The first step is about ensuring that everybody, both the general public and businesses, work to get the numbers down so that we can get back to level 3 or level 2 in December.
“That has to be the priority and if we start to see the numbers moving in the right direction over the next number of weeks, we will certainly be calling on the Government to provide clarity on what they expect to happen once we get to December.
“Right now, the focus has to be on getting the numbers down so that we’re in a position to reopen in December."
The Taoiseach made his remarks about Christmas at the launch of the Government’s Keep Well campaign, which aims to support people and communities to mind their physical and mental health in the coming months.
The campaign shows people of all ages how we can mind our health and wellbeing by adding healthy and helpful habits to our daily routines.
Funding wil ba allocated from Sláintecare to support a number of initiatives through the Healthy Ireland Fund that will be rolled out over the coming months.
Information about local resources and initiatives will be available via local authorities, which are also being supported to provide a local community helpline and befriending service.
Working with partners including An Garda Síochána, non-governmental organisations, and Volunteer Ireland, there will be a particular emphasis on identifying and supporting those most at risk of isolation.
“We’re very conscious that the pandemic has an impact on mental health, and the psychology of the pandemic is very, very important,” said Mr Martin.
“That’s why we’re endeavouring to build resilience because these are not normal times.”
Cork GP Nick Flynn agrees the pandemic is having an impact.
“We are dealing with a large number of people who are very stressed or very anxious about the current situation,” said Dr Flynn.
“That includes people with pre-existing conditions and new patients.
“We’re even seeing it in the health service with medics, doctors. and more affected.”
Dr Flynn said that, if restrictions persist past the six-week deadline, there will need to be greater support for those with mental health issues in the build-up to Christmas and beyond.
Mr Healy also highlighted the need for people to support local businesses in the run-up to Christmas this year.
“There is a need for everybody to ensure they are purchasing, where they can, from local businesses,” he said.“When shopping online, you can still shop local online.
“Every purchase makes a significant difference to businesses because this is the time of year where most of their business is usually done.”