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Black economy is sidelining legitimate hairdressers, Micheál Martin claims

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FIANNA Fáil leader Micheál Martin has claimed legitimate hairdressers are being marginalised because people are getting their hair cut on the black market.

Mr Martin said smaller businesses are bearing the brunt of the Covid-19 restrictions which he said are threatening their very survival and called for greater engagement by the Government with the sector.

He said in particular there was a lot of emerging anecdotal evidence in the hairdressing industry of a “black economy” where some hairdressers are operating informally and “legitimate operators are being marginalised”.

Mr Martin expressed concern about “quite significant house parties” and said there is “no doubt compliance is fraying” and that this is causing societal division between people breaking the rules and those adhering to them.

Mr Martin said it was “absurd” that an Irish person can plan a holiday in much of Europe but not do so here and said that much of the existing travel restrictions do not make sense.

He said it is “deeply unfortunate” that the Government has settled into a rigid approach to deciding on changes.

Mr Martin hit out at briefings about the reopening roadmap and what “might be done” that, he claimed, was confusing people.

“People in every part of the country are now reporting confusion about what measures are actually in place. The habit of nonstop briefing of decisions yet to be made means that the difference between the headlines and the guidelines grows significantly by the day," he said.

Earlier Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he was confident that the Government will approve the move to phase two of the reopening plan tomorrow, which will allow for a further easing of Covid-19 restrictions from Monday.

Mr Varadkar said this would see more people going back to work, more businesses reopening in the retail sector, more outdoor sporting and fitness activities, including teams training in small groups as long as social distancing can be maintained.

Small groups will be able to meet indoors as well as outdoors, people will be able to travel up to 20km from home for exercise and people who can work alone or can effectively socially distance will be able to return to their workplace more frequently.

However he expressed concern about calls to accelerate the roadmap further.

"I am concerned that this week, many people were calling for us to accelerate things and jump ahead before we even had the data from the last few days,” Mr Varadkar said. “It is better to adopt a slow and steady approach than to go too far, too fast."

Mr Varadkar raised the prospect of ‘air bridges’ being introduced where people can book flights and travel to and from other countries who are at a similar stage in controlling the virus.

“This, however, is some weeks away and it's far too soon for anyone to book their holidays, but summer is not yet lost,” he added.

Responding to Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, Mr Varadkar said Government has made proposals to the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) that elements of phase three of the reopening roadmap could be brought forward into phase two from next Monday.

The Government has also asked Nphet to examine whether elements of phase four of the roadmap could be brought forward into phase three, Mr Varadkar said.

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