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Tourism collapse, health statistics and price of milk: CSO reveals pandemic impact on Irish society

Figures from Central Statistics Office show airport activity due to the pandemic was down 78pc when compared with 2019 figures


A deserted Dublin Airport. Photo: Gerry Mooney

A deserted Dublin Airport. Photo: Gerry Mooney

A deserted Dublin Airport. Photo: Gerry Mooney

New figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) have revealed that Irish tourism numbers almost collapsed in 2020, with airport activity due to the pandemic down 78pc when compared with 2019 figures.

According to the CSO’s latest snippet of their yearly report, 8.3million passengers passed through the country’s main airports last year.

The report shows 4.5m overseas passengers arrived in the country and 4.5m overseas passengers departed, this represent a decrease of 78pc compared with 2019, when more than 20m passengers both arrived and departed.

Regarding transport, Volkswagen was the most popular make of new private cars licensed in 2020 with 10,253 units registered, followed by Toyota at 9,475, Hyundai at 7,227, Skoda at 6,887 and 6,493 Ford unites. Together these five makes represented almost half of all new private cars licensed over the period.

While diesel cars remained the most popular, their dominance decreased.

In 2016, 70pc of new private cars were diesel, 28pc were petrol and 2pc were electric/hybrid.

In 2020, however, diesel accounted for 43pc of new private cars, while 37pc were petrol and 20pc were electric/hybrid.

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Regarding environmental issues, the total greenhouse gas emissions by resident units of Ireland increased by 1.5pc to 77.4m tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent from 2017 to 2018.

In terms of health statistics, Covid-19 had the greatest impact on the older age groups, with 64pc of all confirmed Covid-19 deaths to date in the 80 years old or older age group.

The median age of those who lost their lives to the virus with underlying conditions is 84 and in terms of underlying conditions, chronic heart disease was present in 44pc of deaths.

The 25-44-year-old age group accounted for around a third of all cases toward the end of 2020.

A different trend was noted among the over-80s age group, which accounted for 3pc of cases in December 2020 compared with 20pc in April of that year.

Women made up the majority of confirmed cases in 2020, accounting for 51pc of cases in November and 52pc of December’s total.


Stock image

Stock image

Stock image

The effect of the pandemic on the labour market was most severe in Q2 2020 as many of the public health measures were in force for the whole quarter.

While 83.5pc of all those who had received at least one Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) had left the scheme by August 29, 2021, breaking the numbers down by sex shows that 84.2pc of males had left the scheme compared with 82.6pc of females.

Those aged under 20 years old were found to be most likely to have left the PUP scheme (85.5pc), while the oldest age group were least likely to have left the PUP (78.6pc for those aged 60).

Household incomes with Covid-19 income supports, fell by between 0.1pc and 4.2pc in the year to Q2 2020 for lower income households, but would have fallen between 18pc and 30pc without supports.

The pandemic had a dramatic effect on retail sales in Ireland, with the largest monthly decrease in the volume of retail sales recorded in April 2020, down 37.3pc, while the highest monthly increase occurred in June 2020, up 36.6pc, according to the CSO.

In terms of business, 56pc of SMEs reported closing at some point during the pandemic in 2020.

The hardest-hit sector within services was the accommodation and food service sector, where 90pc of firms had to close at some point.

Arts, entertainment, recreation and other service activities sectors had 80pc or more of responding enterprises closing at some point in 2020.

Meanwhile, more than three-quarters of construction firms also closed at some point.

In total, more than 100,000 enterprises had personnel in receipt of the PUP in January 2021, the highest since June 2020.

The percentage of enterprises with personnel availing of Covid-19 income support was 46.6pc in January 2021, while the uptake of these supports peaked in April at 57.2pc compared to a low of 30.5pc in September.

In terms of agricultural activity, the total area farmed in 2020 was 4.5m hectares.

In 2020, Co Cork had the largest number of dairy cows at 390,900 head, while Co Leitrim had the smallest number of dairy cows at 1,900 head.

When it comes to agriculture prices, milk prices were 9.6pc higher in 2020 when compared with 2015, while cattle prices had dropped 7.4pc over the same period.

Fertiliser and energy prices decreased by 10.5pc and 8pc respectively between 2019 and 2020. Compared to the base year of 2015, fertilisers and energy were 18.7pc and 2pc respectively lower in 2020.

Meanwhile, butter production has increased significantly – with 152,100 tonnes of butter produced in 2013, which rose by 74pc to 264,700 tonnes in 2020.

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