The cut-off date for new entrants to Covid business supports may be extended beyond the end of the year if more sectoral closures are forced amid a surge in the disease.
The Irish Times has learned that allowing new entrants into the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) past the cut-off point is under consideration, following a meeting of a Government committee on Monday evening.
Extending the system of Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) payments into the new year is also understood to be on the table if there are renewed closures.
However, no options were signed off on and there was no decision over precisely what form supports might take.
While such options remain a possibility, the Government is not conceding that fresh closures will be necessary.
The support options were examined only in the event that businesses have to shut their doors, sources said, indicating that the Government will seek to avoid that scenario.
Subsidised antigen tests
It was also unclear on Monday evening whether Government plans for a subsidised antigen testing regime will be signed off by the Coalition on Tuesday.
Draft plans for a long-awaited scheme to subsidise antigen tests were drawn up on Monday and were due go to Cabinet.
It is understood that the initial proposal envisaged rolling out the programme through pharmacies first, with a discount of around €4 per test across the board, but this was still under discussion late in the evening.
Earlier on Monday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin told reporters in Cork that the number of cases of Covid-19 can be reduced without having to go into a lockdown.
He said the Government has other options and responses to help tackle rising case numbers.
A further 5,634 cases were reported on Monday, with the country’s chief medical officer warning 20 to 25 people will end up in hospital for every 1,000 cases, with two or three people requring critical care in intensive care units.