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Coronavirus Ireland Live Updates: No new Covid-19 deaths for the first time since mid-March

  • The coronavirus death toll in Ireland has fallen to 1,606 after no further deaths were recorded and two were deregistered
  • 59 new cases diagnosed yesterday
  • There have been 24,698 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ireland

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People walking in Dublin's Phoenix park over the weekend. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

People walking in Dublin's Phoenix park over the weekend. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

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A man wearing a face mask waits to walk over Shibuya crossing in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

A man wearing a face mask waits to walk over Shibuya crossing in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

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A man wearing a face mask amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus crosses a street on a bicycle in Tokyo. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

A man wearing a face mask amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus crosses a street on a bicycle in Tokyo. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

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People walking in Dublin's Phoenix park over the weekend. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Follow the latest coronavirus news in Ireland and across the world on the Independent.ie live blog.


23:00 25/05/2020

Women’s Super League season ended with immediate effect

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Arsenal's Katie McCabe celebrates scoring her side's second goal

Arsenal's Katie McCabe celebrates scoring her side's second goal

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Arsenal's Katie McCabe celebrates scoring her side's second goal

The 2019-20 Women’s Super League and Championship season has been ended with immediate effect.

The competitions were suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, and now a decision has been taken not to try to restart, but to instead focus on preparations for 2020-21.

A statement on the Football Association’s website said the decision had been reached after “overwhelming feedback” from the clubs.

Recommendations for settling the sporting outcomes of the season – such as which teams should represent England in the 2020-21 Women’s Champions League – have been sent to the FA board for consideration.


22:20 25/05/2020

Memorial Day like no other for Americans under coronavirus restrictions


Americans have marked a Memorial Day like no other as the coronavirus pandemic forced communities to honour the nation’s military dead with smaller, more subdued ceremonies.

On the weekend that marks the unofficial start of summer, US authorities warned beach-goers to heed social distancing rules to avoid a resurgence of the disease.

Covid-19 has infected 5.4 million people worldwide and killed more than 345,000, including nearly 100,000 Americans, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Memorial Day commemorations were cancelled or toned down across the country.

Veterans, along with nursing home residents, have made up a significant portion of those who died in the US outbreak.


22:00 25/05/2020

Easing Europe confident of avoiding coronavirus lockdown sequel

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Henri de Chassey wearing a protective face mask, kisses his partner Margaux Rebois, who is returning to Paris after spending 2 months in Brussels, at Midi/Zuid station on the first day of the easing of lockdown measures during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Brussels, Belgium. Photo: REUTERS/Yves Herman

Henri de Chassey wearing a protective face mask, kisses his partner Margaux Rebois, who is returning to Paris after spending 2 months in Brussels, at Midi/Zuid station on the first day of the easing of lockdown measures during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Brussels, Belgium. Photo: REUTERS/Yves Herman

REUTERS

Henri de Chassey wearing a protective face mask, kisses his partner Margaux Rebois, who is returning to Paris after spending 2 months in Brussels, at Midi/Zuid station on the first day of the easing of lockdown measures during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Brussels, Belgium. Photo: REUTERS/Yves Herman

Armed with mass testing and tracing capabilities, a growing number of European countries are expressing confidence that they can avoid a return to economically-devastating coronavirus lockdowns.

While most European countries failed to contain the coronavirus outbreak when it reached them in February and March, Belgium and Poland are among those who say they are far better placed to deal with any so-called second wave.

After nearly two months of clampdowns, pupils are returning to school and non-food shops or restaurants are re-opening, albeit with warnings that this easing could be stopped or even reversed if coronavirus cases start to spike.

"We can rule out that we will have to go back to the tough measures," Belgian Interior Minister Pieter De Crem told broadcaster VTM on Sunday.

This was echoed by Polish Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski who told weekly newspaper Sieci that Warsaw was well equipped, after successfully halting the spread of an outbreak in Silesia.


21:40 25/05/2020

Slump in consumption, exports push Germany into recession in Q1

A slump in capital investments, private consumption and exports pushed the German economy into a recession in the first quarter, detailed data showed on Monday, giving a glimpse of the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Federal Statistics Office said capital investments fell by 6.9pc, private consumption by 3.2pc and exports by 3.1pc between January and March compared with the last three months of 2019.

This meant that private consumption took off 1.7 percentage points of overall economic activity and net trade shaved off 0.8 percentage points, translating into a first-quarter contraction of 2.2pc, the steepest rate since 2009.

The data showed that investments in the construction sector, which accounts for almost 10pc of overall national output and is Germany's largest employer, rose by 4.1pc, contributing 0.4 percentage points to quarterly growth.

21:20 25/05/2020

Montenegro becomes Europe's first coronavirus-free state, PM says

Montenegro's prime minister on Monday declared the country coronavirus-free - a move vital for its Adriatic tourism industry coming 69 days after it reported its first case and after 20 without a new one.

Montenegro has reported 324 confirmed cases of COVID-19 illness and nine deaths.

"The battle with such a vicious virus has been won and Montenegro now becomes the first coronavirus-free country in Europe," Dusko Markovic, the Prime Minister told a news conference after meeting a body tasked with combating the disease.

Markovic started the news conference by taking off his face mask.

In early March, the Balkan republic of 620,000 people, which is reliant on revenues from tourism along its Adriatic coast, closed borders, airports and seaports, shut schools and banned public gatherings and outdoor activities to curb the spread of the virus.

The restrictions have been gradually eased since March 30. Markovic said Montenegro would open its borders to travellers from countries reporting no more than 25 cases of infection per 100,000 people - including Croatia, Albania, Slovenia, Germany and Greece.


21:00 25/05/2020

Consumer behaviour to be 'fundamentally changed' after the coronavirus pandemic

Mícheal Ó Scannáil

The way in which consumers behave will “fundamentally change” after the coronavirus pandemic according to a new study.

According to the first edition of the EY Future Consumer Index 42pc of respondents believe that the way they shop will fundamentally change as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

When it comes to brands and products, 34pc of consumers indicate that they would pay more for local products, 25pc for trusted brands and 23pc for ethical products.

The survey identified four distinct consumer behaviour group which have emerged during the pandemic.

These are ‘cut deep,’ ‘stay calm, carry on,’ ‘save and stockpile’ and ‘hibernate and spend’.

Of the consumers surveyed, most are spending the same or less during lockdown with 27.3pc falling into the ‘cut deep’ section spending less across all expense categories and those representing the ‘stay calm, carry on’ category (26.2pc) continuing to spend as normal.

More consumers (35.1pc) fall into the ‘save and stockpile’ segment than any other, indicating that they feel pessimistic about the future, while consumers that fall into the ‘hibernate and spend’ grouping (11.4pc) are spending more across the board.


20:40 25/05/2020

Recipients who earn more on pandemic payment than at work will be reviewed when it is extended past June 8

Gabija Gataveckaite

The Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) will be reviewed to address recipients who earn more from the payment than they would from their jobs.

The payment is to be extended past its expiration date of June 8, according to Business Minister Heather Humphreys.

Today, payments valued at €202.8m to nearly 580,000 people were issued, a reduction of 5,200 on last week.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland, she echoed the Taoiseach’s claims that it is not “fair” or “sustainable” that some recipients of the payment were making more money from the €350 weekly payment than their wages.


20:20 25/05/2020

WHO pauses trial of Trump-touted hydroxychloroquine in Covid-19 patients due to safety concerns

The World Health Organization has suspended testing the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients due to safety concerns, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.

Hydroxycholoroquine has been touted by Donald Trump and others as a possible treatment for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The US President has said he was taking the drug to help prevent infection.

"The executive group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity trial while the safety data is reviewed by the data safety monitoring board," Tedros told an online briefing.

He said the other arms of the trial - a major international initiative to hold clinical tests of potential treatments for the virus - were continuing.

The WHO has previously recommended against using hydroxychloroquine to treat or prevent coronavirus infections, except as part of clinical trials.


20:00 25/05/2020

More patients than beds in Mumbai as India faces surge in virus cases

When Manit Parikh's mother tested positive for the new coronavirus, she was rushed by ambulance to Mumbai's private Lilavati Hospital, but officials told the family no critical-care beds were available.

Five hours and dozens of phone calls later the family found a bed for her at the private Bombay Hospital. A day later, on May 18, Parikh's 92-year-old diabetic grandfather had breathing difficulties at home and was taken to the city's Breach Candy Hospital, another top private facility, but there were no beds.

"My dad was pleading with them," Parikh told Reuters. "They said they didn't have a bed, not even a normal bed." Later that day, they found a bed at Bombay Hospital but his grandfather died hours later. His test results showed he was infected with the virus.

India on Sunday reported 6,767 new coronavirus infections, the country’s biggest one-day increase. Government data shows the number of coronavirus cases in the world’s second-most populous country are doubling every 13 days or so, even as the government begins easing lockdown restrictions. India has reported more than 131,000 infections, including 3,867 deaths.

Mukrjee's team estimates that between 630,000 and 2.1 million people in India - out of a population of 1.3 billion - will become infected by early July.


19:40 25/05/2020

Early restart to public Mass will 'lead to loss of life', warns priests' group

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Fr Eduardo Pon Vasquez and Fr Rey Emmanuelle Amancio disinfecting their makeshift protective gear with alocohol after blessing unclaimed deceased bodies inside a funeral home.  (Photo by Jes Aznar/Getty Images)

Fr Eduardo Pon Vasquez and Fr Rey Emmanuelle Amancio disinfecting their makeshift protective gear with alocohol after blessing unclaimed deceased bodies inside a funeral home. (Photo by Jes Aznar/Getty Images)

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Fr Eduardo Pon Vasquez and Fr Rey Emmanuelle Amancio disinfecting their makeshift protective gear with alocohol after blessing unclaimed deceased bodies inside a funeral home. (Photo by Jes Aznar/Getty Images)


Sarah McDonald

A group of Catholic priests has criticised those demanding that public Masses be reinstated before the July 20 timeline as "grossly irresponsible".

In a statement, the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP), which represents more than 1,000 priests in Ireland, said religious groups pushing for an early reopening were "promoting their own self-serving and self-interested agendas" and that claiming entitlement to special treatment was both inappropriate and unacceptable.

"In the present context, gathering people together - especially elderly people who are most at risk - is grossly irresponsible and will lead to great pain, suffering and loss of life for many individuals and families," the group said.


19:20 25/05/2020

Leinster Rugby cancel 2020/21 season tickets as CEO Mick Dawson describes impact of pandemic as 'significant'

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Leinster Rugby have cancelled their 2020-21 season tickets. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Leinster Rugby have cancelled their 2020-21 season tickets. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Leinster Rugby have cancelled their 2020-21 season tickets. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Leinster chief executive Mick Dawson has described the financial impact of the covid-19 shutdown on the province as "significant."

The Guinness PRO14 champions have been the first Irish side to make a move on tickets, offering refunds on their remaining fixtures including the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final against Saracens and cancelling the sale of the 2020/21 season tickets.

The move is another example of the uncertainty hanging over Irish rugby, even after the IRFU announced plans to return behind closed doors in August.

The sport has been shut down since the start of March and if it will be allowed to return it could be a long time before supporters are allowed to attend.


19:00 25/05/2020

Majority of young people involved in Garda projects ‘complying’ with regulations

The majority of young people participating in Garda diversion projects are being compliant with Covid-19 restrictions, research has found.

The study found that the cohort of young people tended to be compliant in keeping within the 2km distance, but less so in maintaining social distance and not gathering in groups.

The majority reported that a small minority of young people were non-compliant with the Covid-19 public health measures, such as meeting friends in groups.

The report does find that a small number of young people were involved in more serious breaches, and these tended to be associated with alcohol or drug misuse.


18:40 25/05/2020

Varadkar and partner living at Farmleigh lodge during pandemic

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Leo Varadkar and his partner Matt Barrett

Leo Varadkar and his partner Matt Barrett

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Leo Varadkar and his partner Matt Barrett


Philip Ryan

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been living on the Farmleigh Estate in the Phoenix Park during the Covid-19 pandemic, it has emerged.

Mr Varadkar and his partner Dr Matthew Barrett have been staying in the State-owned Stewards Lodge on the grounds of Farmleigh for a number of weeks.

The Taoiseach is paying a nightly fee to stay in the residence which received a €600,000 refurbishment in 2007.

Mr Varadkar’s spokesperson revealed he was staying in the residency, which is available to Taoisigh, after photographs emerged of the Taoiseach meeting friends in the Phoenix Park.


18:20 25/05/2020

Leaving Cert: Registration for new calculated grade process to start tomorrow

Katherine Donnelly

The online registration of Leaving Cert candidates for the new calculated grade process will run for three days, starting tomorrow.

All Leaving Cert and Leaving Cert Applied students are being asked to register, even if, ultimately, they decide that they don’t want to receive the calculated grades.

Importantly, signing up to provides an opportunity for candidates to confirm the level at which they want to be assessed in a subject.

Students can stick with the same level – higher, ordinary, foundation - at which they entered for the traditional exams or they can drop down a level.


18:00 25/05/2020

Breakdown of latest figures

Latest data from the HPSC, as of midnight on Saturday (24,593 cases), reveals:

  • 57pc are female and 43pc are male
  • The median age of confirmed cases is 48 years
  • 3,225 cases (13pc) have been hospitalised
  • Of those hospitalised, 394 cases have been admitted to ICU
  • 7,842 cases are associated with healthcare workers
  • Dublin has the highest number of cases at 11,876 (48pc of all cases) followed by Cork with 1,438 cases (6pc) and then Kildare with 1,390 cases (6pc)
  • Of those for whom transmission status is known: community transmission accounts for 59pc, close contact accounts for 38pc, travel abroad accounts for 3pc

Dr. Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said: "According to research conducted on behalf of the Department of Health, 61pc of people think it likely that Ireland will experience a second wave of COVID-19.

"While NPHET continues to monitor the spread of COVID-19, both here in Ireland and internationally, ultimately it is the collective behaviours of each individual which will determine the course of this disease. The importance of regular hand washing, physical distance and cough/sneeze etiquette cannot be underestimated.”


17:48 25/05/2020

No new deaths associated with coronavirus reported today in Ireland

There have been no new deaths reported to the coronavirus today in Ireland.

It is the first time since March that new new Covid-19 -related deaths have been registered.

There have been a total 1,606 Covid-19 related deaths in Ireland.

Validation of data at the HPSC has resulted in the denotification of 2 deaths. The figure of 1,606 reflects this.

Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan has confirmed that 59 more people have tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of cases in Ireland to 24,698.

Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said: “The number of new cases and reported deaths over the past week indicates that we have suppressed COVID-19 as a country. It has taken strict measures to achieve this. It will take another week to see any effect on disease incidence that might arise from the easing of measures in Phase 1.”


17:40 25/05/2020

China lowers yuan midpoint to weakest since 2008 global financial crisis

China's central bank on Monday lowered its official yuan midpoint to the weakest since the 2008 global financial crisis, reflecting losses in the spot yuan on Friday after Beijing proposed a new national security law for Hong Kong.

The People's Bank of China (PBOC) set the midpoint at 7.1209 yuan per dollar prior to the market open, 270 pips, or 0.38pc, weaker than the previous fix of 7.0939. It was the weakest level since Feb. 28, 2008.


17:15 25/05/2020

'I think...I behaved reasonably' - Dominic Cummings defies calls to quit over accusations of flouting lockdown

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Eye of the storm: Dominic Cummings leaves his north London home. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Eye of the storm: Dominic Cummings leaves his north London home. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

PA

Eye of the storm: Dominic Cummings leaves his north London home. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's closest aide has defied calls to quit over accusations that he flouted a coronavirus lockdown by driving 250 miles from London to northern England.

In a statement which he read to media in the Rose Garden of Johnson's 10 Downing Street office this evening, Dominic Cummings said he believed he had acted reasonably and had not violated the lockdown rules.

"I did what I thought was the right thing to do," Cummings said in response to reporters' questions after delivering the statement. "I think...I behaved reasonably".

Johnson had defended Cummings on Sunday, saying the advisor acted "responsibly and legally and with integrity" when he travelled 400 km (25 miles) in March from London to County Durham in northern England with his son and wife, who had symptoms of COVID-19, to be with relatives.

Cummings, who fell ill himself after the long drive, explained that he had wanted to ensure his four-year-old son could be properly cared for if he fell ill.


17:00 25/05/2020

'I don't regret what I did' - Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings defends 260 mile drive during lockdown

Boris Johnson has backed his top aide Dominic Cummings, saying he “acted responsibly, legally and with integrity” when he drove 260 miles to County Durham to isolate with his family.

Mr Cummings says he made the journey for childcare purposes. Here is the timeline of events around his trip.

In a press conference today Mr Cummings said:

  • "I gave a full account to the Prime Minister of my actions."
  • "I know people are angry at me, the Prime Minister has asked me to offer my explanation here today.
  • "I was worried that if my wife and I were both seriously ill we had no reasonable childcare options in London."
  • "I have never been tested for coronavirus."
  • "Erroneous media reports that I opened lockdown led to me being hounded."
  • "I thought the best thing to do was to drive to an isolated cottage on my father's farm. I thought I would be safe there and it would be safe for everyone else."
  • "I did not ask the Prime Minister about this decision. I did not stop on the way to Durham.
  • "While we were in the cottage I became very ill. My son fell ill and had to go to hospital."
  • "At no point in Durham did my family visit my parent's house."
  • "I feel I have acted legally. I feel that the rules allowed me to exercise my judgement."
  • "I think it was reasonable to take a short drive to see if I was fit to return to London."
  • "I understand that millions of people have endured hardship."
  • "I don't regret what I did. I think what I did was reasonable in these circumstances.
  • "I think the way I dealt with it presented the least risk to everybody concerned.
  • "I am not surprised that a lot of people are very angry."
  • "I hope that today after I have explained people will realise this was a tricky situation.


16:40 25/05/2020

Taoiseach has picnic with friends despite senior official discouraging public from doing so last week

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Phoenix Park

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Phoenix Park

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Phoenix Park



Cormac McQuinn

Leo Varadkar has been pictured eating with friends in the Phoenix Park despite a senior official in his department discouraging people from having picnics just last week.

Last week Department of the Taoiseach Assistance Secretary General Liz Canavan urged people not to have picnics at nature trails and beaches.

She said: "If you're visiting a public amenity try not to stay too long at the site or have picnics. Please do your exercise and then go home."

In photographs circulating on social media Mr Varadkar and his partner are shown socialising with two other friends.

The Taoiseach and his friends are pictured with their shirts off enjoying a picnic during the warm weather on Sunday afternoon.


16:20 25/05/2020

US limits travel from Brazil amid worsening coronavirus outbreak

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Leader: Jair Bolsonaro wears a mask bearing an image of himself as he speaks to reporters in Brasilia at the weekend. Photo: Reuters/Adriano Machado

Leader: Jair Bolsonaro wears a mask bearing an image of himself as he speaks to reporters in Brasilia at the weekend. Photo: Reuters/Adriano Machado

REUTERS

Leader: Jair Bolsonaro wears a mask bearing an image of himself as he speaks to reporters in Brasilia at the weekend. Photo: Reuters/Adriano Machado

The White House on Sunday said it was restricting travel from Brazil to the United States, two days after the South American nation became the world's number two hotspot for coronavirus cases.

The travel ban was a blow to right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has followed the example of U.S. President Donald Trump in addressing the pandemic, fighting calls for social distancing and touting unproven drugs. The Brazilian president's office did not respond to a request for comment.

"The US maintains a strong partnership with Brazil and we work closely to mitigate the socioeconomic and health impacts of COVID-19 in Brazil," the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia said in a statement.

The new restrictions come into force on May 28, the embassy said, prohibiting most non-U.S. citizens from traveling to the United States if they have been in Brazil in the last two weeks. Green card holders, close relatives of U.S. citizens and flight crew members, among select others, would be exempt.


16:00 25/05/2020

Drop in household spending may reduce indirect tax revenue by more than a fifth

A decline in household spending caused by the Covid-19 pandemic could reduce indirect tax revenue by more than a fifth, according to a new study.

The research, carried out by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), draws on real-time spending data in Ireland and international evidence to simulate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on consumption in Ireland this year and indirect tax revenues.

The research considers three scenarios, including a “new normal” with ongoing physical distancing, a second wave of infections in late 2020, and a vaccine which allows normal economic activity to resume in the final quarter of the year.

In one of these scenarios, where a vaccine becomes available, the research suggests household spending will fall by nearly 12pc.

This would result in a proportionally larger fall in indirect tax revenues of 18.7pc as those areas of spending that are most affected like motor fuel, are taxed at higher rates than those that are less affected, including groceries.


15:40 25/05/2020

Northern Ireland coronavirus death toll rises to 514

The number of people who have died after testing positive for coronavirus in Northern Ireland has risen to 514 after eight more deaths were reported by the Department of Health.

The department also reported a further 39 cases of confirmed Covid-19, bringing the total number of positive cases in Northern Ireland to 4,609.

The number of people tested for the virus over the last 24 hours was 1,084.

The figures were released as police urged members of the public to avoid visiting the beach or popular tourist spots on the bank holiday.


15:20 25/05/2020

Wage subsidy scheme has paid out more than a billion euro so far

The amount of money paid out under the coronavirus wage subsidy scheme has surpassed 1.1 billion euro, a senior civil servant has said.

The Revenue has paid 482,000 workers under the Temporary Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS), which was introduced in March.

Liz Canavan, assistant secretary for social policy for the Taoiseach, told the Government Covid-19 briefing on Monday that almost 56,300 employers are registered for the scheme across the country.

Meanwhile, the number of people claiming the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) is expected to fall by around 35,600 after thousands of people returned to work in the last week.

There are 579,000 people registered to received the PUP of 350 euro a week.


15:00 25/05/2020

Boris Johnson lockdown plan overshadowed by Dominic Cummings fallout

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Eye of the storm: Dominic Cummings leaves his north London home. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Eye of the storm: Dominic Cummings leaves his north London home. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

PA

Eye of the storm: Dominic Cummings leaves his north London home. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Boris Johnson’s attempts to get Britain back on track after coronavirus threaten to be overshadowed by the continued fallout over Dominic Cummings’ lockdown trip.

The Prime Minister chose to front the daily Downing Street Covid-19 briefing to publicly back Mr Cummings on Sunday, saying he had “acted responsibly, legally and with integrity” by driving 260 miles to County Durham to isolate and that “any parent would frankly understand what he did”.

But Tory backbenchers tore into Mr Johnson over his handling of the row, while scientists claimed the defence of Mr Cummings’ interpretation of the lockdown rules undermined efforts to curb the spread of the deadly virus.

The storm over Mr Cummings’ actions overshadowed Mr Johnson’s latest signal that the lockdown is easing as the Prime Minister confirmed the phased reopening of England’s primary schools will commence on June 1.


14.46 25/05/2020

Furniture stores 'should not be offering browsing appointments' under Covid-19 restrictions - government

FURNITURE stores offering viewings of their showrooms by appointment should not be doing so under coronavirus restrictions, a senior government official has said.

Department of the Taoiseach assistant secretary general Liz Canavan said that at the moment the "over-riding objective" of phase one of the government's reopening roadmap is that people should stay at home except for "essential purposes".

She said: "Appointments to shop for homeware, furniture or other non essential items are not part of phase one."

'It's guidance. We’re asking people to use their head' - official who discouraged picnics after Taoiseach pictured eating in park with friends

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Liz Canavan (Brian Lawless/PA)

Liz Canavan (Brian Lawless/PA)

Liz Canavan (Brian Lawless/PA)

A senior government official who discouraged people from having picnics has now said the advice is "guidance" after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was pictured in the Phoenix Park eating with friends.

Last week Department of the Taoiseach Assistance Secretary General Liz Canavan discouraged people from having picnics at nature trails and beaches.

She said: "If you're visiting a public amenity try not to stay too long at the site or have picnics. Please do your exercise and then go home."

Ms Canavan this week declined to comment specifically on the images of Mr Varadkar in the Phoenix Park saying she has not seen them.

13.42 25/05/2020

Foreign tourists can book holidays in Spain from July - Spanish minister

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People walk past the Fountain of the Fallen Angel as they enjoy the sunny weather at Retiro Park which reopened for the first time in more than 2 months amid the coronavirus disease outbreak in Madrid, Spain May 25, 2020. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

People walk past the Fountain of the Fallen Angel as they enjoy the sunny weather at Retiro Park which reopened for the first time in more than 2 months amid the coronavirus disease outbreak in Madrid, Spain May 25, 2020. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

REUTERS

People walk past the Fountain of the Fallen Angel as they enjoy the sunny weather at Retiro Park which reopened for the first time in more than 2 months amid the coronavirus disease outbreak in Madrid, Spain May 25, 2020. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

Foreign tourists can book holidays in Spain from July as the two-week self-quarantine for overseas travellers is likely to be suspended by then, the tourism minister said on Monday.

One of the worst-hit nations in the world from the coronavirus, tourism-dependent Spain is gradually easing a strict lockdown though it has kept a quarantine for visitors so as to prevent a second wave of infections.

"It is perfectly coherent to plan summer vacations to come to Spain in July," Reyes Maroto said in an interview with local radio station Onda Cero.

Spain started phasing out one of Europe's toughest lockdowns earlier this month, but full restrictions had remained in both Madrid and Barcelona because their coronavirus outbreaks were more severe.

WATCH: Teens engage in mass brawl in Cork during coronavirus lockdown

GARDAÍ are reviewing social media footage after residents of a Cork housing estate expressed horror as up to 70 teens ignored the Covid-19 lockdown and gathered for a mass fight on Saturday evening. Shocked residents posted video clips as gangs of teens gathered in the Mt Oval area of Rochestown for what appears to have been a planned brawl.

'I sit in the garden and cry, thinking of the patients' - nursing home staff speak out about coronavirus trauma

Nursing homes remain at the centre of the State's failures in tackling the pandemic. Journalist Rodney Edwards spoke to nursing home staff and how they have been coping:


12.52 25/05/2020

Impact of easing of restrictions will become clearer this week, says Harris

Cate McCurry, PA

The Minister for Health said it will become clear later this week whether the easing of restrictions has led to more cases of Covid-19 in Ireland.

The State is entering the second week in easing its lockdown laws which saw the reopening of a number of retail stores and some sporting activities.

Simon Harris said on Monday that he is feeling "optimistic", however he warned the public cannot "get sloppy" and urged people to continue following public health advice.

He also told RTE 2FM breakfast show that the advice around maintaining a two-metre physical distance is also under review.

A senior civil servant told Monday's Government Covid-19 briefing that there is "a lot of discussion and speculation" about whether some of the public health advice and the road map schedule of reopening will change.

Liz Canavan said the current advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control is that people should physically distance by two metres.

"That remains the public health advice from the Government and similar is in place in countries around the world," Ms Canavan added.

Japan lifts coronavirus emergency in all remaining areas

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A man wearing a face mask waits to walk over Shibuya crossing in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

A man wearing a face mask waits to walk over Shibuya crossing in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Getty Images

A man wearing a face mask waits to walk over Shibuya crossing in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

AP reporters

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has lifted a coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo and four other remaining areas, ending the restrictions nationwide.

Experts on a government-commissioned panel approved the lifting of the emergency in the capital, neighbouring Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama prefectures, and in Hokkaido to the north, which had remained under the emergency declaration after it was removed in most of Japan earlier this month.

Japan, with about 16,600 confirmed cases and 850 deaths, has so far avoided the large outbreaks experienced in the US and Europe despite softer restrictions.

Mr Abe said the lifting of the emergency does not mean the end of the outbreak. He said the goal is to balance preventive measures and the economy until vaccines and effective drugs become available.

But the world's third largest economy has fallen into a recession, and public discontent over his handling of coronavirus has sent his support ratings tumbling. Recent media surveys show public support for his cabinet has plunged below 30pc, the lowest since he returned to office in December 2012.

Mr Abe declared the state of emergency on April 7 in several parts of Japan including Tokyo, expanded it to the entire nation later in the month, and then extended it until the end of May.

Fears that some banks closed during virus epidemic will now never reopen

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Anger: Residents and business owners of Ballyhaunis outside the Bank of Ireland branch. PHOTO : KEITH HENEGHAN

Anger: Residents and business owners of Ballyhaunis outside the Bank of Ireland branch. PHOTO : KEITH HENEGHAN

Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus

Anger: Residents and business owners of Ballyhaunis outside the Bank of Ireland branch. PHOTO : KEITH HENEGHAN

Fears have emerged that some of Ireland's banks will not reopen following the virus pandemic. Personal finance editor Charlie Weston reports.


11.55 25/05/2020

Domestic abuse victims can travel outside of 5km limit to seek help

Daily briefing from spokesperson Liz Canavan from the Department of the Taoiseach at government briefings:

  • Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme: 56,700 employers registered. 432,000 employees have received at least one payment. Total value of the scheme so far is €1.115bn
  • 579,000 people will receive pandemic payment (PUP) today. Around €202m worth of payments are issued weekly
  • 41,500 calls have been made to Community Fora groups by citizens needing a helping hand
  • A €30m package for rural towns who have suffered from the pandemic has been announced
  • www.stillhere.ie domestic abuse service is urging victims of domestic abuse to seek help. The 5km rule does not apply for victims of domestic abuse if they must travel outside it "to seek safety"
  • Roadmap out of lockdown: going "too far, too fast" could result in a surge in infections
  • Appointments to shop for homewares or non-essential services are not a part of phase one and retailers should instead put in place online shopping options.


10.39 25/05/2020

Bars, restaurants and cafes resume to full service - updates from around Europe

Associated Press Reporters

Czech Republic

Bars, restaurants and cafes are returning to full service as the government takes further steps to ease restrictions.

Establishments can serve customers in interior spaces, and hotels are also reopening together with public swimming pools, wellness centres and saunas.

Sports, cultural and other public events for up to 300 people will be allowed, up from the previous 100.

Germany

A coronavirus outbreak linked to a slaughterhouse in the Netherlands has spread across the border to Germany.

Dutch regional health authorities said tests showed 147 of the 657 employees at a meat processing plant in Groenlo were positive for Covid-19.

They said 79 of those infected live in Germany, while 68 are resident in the Netherlands.

There have been several clusters of Covid-19 among slaughterhouse workers in Germany in recent weeks, prompting a government pledge to crack down on conditions in the industry.

Spain

Spain, one of the hardest-hit countries and also one of the world's top destinations for international travellers, says it will not reopen for foreign tourists until July.

To boost the economy, the country's leader has encouraged Spaniards to start planning their vacations for late June inside Spain.

"Come July, we will allow the arrival of foreign tourists to Spain under safe conditions," prime minister Pedro Sanchez said.

"We will guarantee that tourists are not at risk and that they don't represent a risk" to Spain.

France

France is relaxing its border restrictions from today, allowing in migrant workers and family visitors from other European countries.

Over the weekend, families flocked to the beach at La Grande Motte on the Mediterranean, swimming and sunbathing, with eight-square-metre spaces marked off with ropes and wooden stakes to keep people apart. Reservations were required, and there was already a two-day waiting list.

Other beaches in France have also reopened, but only for exercise, with visitors not allowed to sit or lie down.

In Paris, where all city parks remain closed, locals soaked up the sun along the embankments of the Seine River and lounged on ledges outside the Tuileries Gardens.


09.20 25/05/2020

Pandemic payment will tackle recipients who earn more on it than at work when it is extended past June 8

The Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) will be reviewed to address recipients who earn more from the payment than they would from their jobs.

The payment is to be extended past its expiration date of June 8, according to jobs minister Heather Humphreys.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland, she echoed the taoiseach’s claims that it is not “fair” or “sustainable” that some recipients of the payment were making more money from the €350 weekly payment than their wages.

She said that this “anomaly” is due to the speed of the payment being put in place and that the payment will be reviewed to address issues before it is extended past June 8.

WATCH: Shopping by appointment: a furniture chain's new way to trade

With many stores still unable to open their doors to the public, shopping by appointment is being adopted by the popular EZ Living furniture chain as a way to trade.

Its plan to open on May 18 along with hardware stores was scuppered by the Government. And while it and other homeware chains seek urgent clarity on the matter, it is proceeding with its personal shopper plan, saying it had 300 appointments already booked before it was told it could not open its doors.


08.16 25/05/2020

Virgin Media announces €1m initiative including free on-air advertising for businesses

Virgin Media has announced a €1m initiative for businesses which would include free on-air advertising.

The Backing Business initiative aims to boost Irish business throughfree on-air advertising and social media promotion across its full schedule covering Virgin Media Channels One, Two and Three.

To apply, business owners can send in a short email, outlining who and where they are, some of their main products or services and how they have coped and reinvented themselves through the current crisis. They're also encouraged to take a short video by mobile phone (including shots of the business premises). You can simply email submissions to backingbusiness@virginmedia.ie or WhatsApp to 089 611 1111.

The five surprising things that could help halt Covid

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A social distance sign in seen in Urmston, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19. REUTERS/Phil Noble

A social distance sign in seen in Urmston, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19. REUTERS/Phil Noble

REUTERS

A social distance sign in seen in Urmston, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Experts have advised that hand washing and proper respiratory etiquette are some of the best ways to stop the spread of the coronavirus- however, brushing your teeth may be another surprising measure which may halt Covid.

Read Western Correspondent Eavan Murray's report below -

Corporation tax could overtake Vat as spending plunges

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'The balance of risks we now face is like nothing society has faced in living memory.' (Stock image)

'The balance of risks we now face is like nothing society has faced in living memory.' (Stock image)

'The balance of risks we now face is like nothing society has faced in living memory.' (Stock image)

Shutting shops and strict travel restrictions could cost the State up to €6.7bn this year, expanding the already huge hole in this year's budget.

The economic devastation being caused by Covid-19 could reduce indirect tax revenues by more than a fifth, according to new research from the ESRI, losing the State €3.9bn-€6.7bn in 2020.

Under the worst-case scenario, indirect tax would fall so far that corporation tax might approach or potentially overtake Vat as the State's second biggest source of income.

Direct tax is by far the State's biggest source of revenue - €23bn of the €59bn of tax collected here in 2019 was income tax.


07.10 25/05/2020

Number of deaths on island rises over 2,000

Gabija Gataveckaite reports

The number of deaths associated with the coronavirus on the island of Ireland has risen over 2,000.

Yesterday, a further four deaths were announced, which brought the death toll 1,608. The official number of deaths in Northern Ireland now stands at 506 after one death emerged yesterday.

However, this number could be greater as the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency has recorded 664 deaths related to the virus up to May 15, 40pc greater than official figures.

'Travel bubbles' between low-risk countries planned to help tourism

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It is still advised to avoid all non-essential travel overseas and those who come into the country are "strongly advised" to self-isolate for 14 days. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

It is still advised to avoid all non-essential travel overseas and those who come into the country are "strongly advised" to self-isolate for 14 days. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

It is still advised to avoid all non-essential travel overseas and those who come into the country are "strongly advised" to self-isolate for 14 days. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The Government has been urged by both Irish airports and airlines to adopt a recovery model with 'safe travel bubbles' which would help increase passenger number, to help the aviation industry recover from the pandemic.

Ralph Riegel reports:

Risk too great to reduce social distancing, health experts warn

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Sunbathers lay in areas marked out with ropes to enforce social-distancing measures in La Grande Motte in southern France (Daniel Cole/AP)

Sunbathers lay in areas marked out with ropes to enforce social-distancing measures in La Grande Motte in southern France (Daniel Cole/AP)

AP/PA Images

Sunbathers lay in areas marked out with ropes to enforce social-distancing measures in La Grande Motte in southern France (Daniel Cole/AP)

Politicians have begun putting pressure on senior health experts to half the social distancing rules from two metres to one metre. However, health experts have warned that it is too risky to do so - political editor Philip Ryan reports.

Online Editors