Hospitality sector pins hope on visitors
Dublin will suffer a multimillion-euro hit and near empty streets next Tuesday following the decision to axe the St Patrick's Day Festival.
The organisers of the event said that following the decision of the National Public Health Emergency Team not to proceed with the parade in Dublin, the festival village in Merrion Square, the treasure hunt and the ceili mor planned for the capital will now not go ahead.
St Patrick's Festival "will continue to provide a vibrant and diverse world-class celebration of our national holiday for citizens and visitors alike through our extensive cultural programme of more than 100 small to medium scale events including music, theatre, talks and trails, exhibitions and more, running from March 13 - 17," it said.
Hospitality firms pinning their hopes to a visitor boom for St Patrick's Day face likely losses in the tens of millions of euro as key events are cancelled.
Officials from the pub, hotel and restaurant sectors have said they are already experiencing heavy cancellations and lower footfall.
Meanwhile, the death toll from the coronavirus in Ireland could reach up to a staggering 85,000 in a worst-case scenario, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has indicated.
It comes as the number of confirmed cases of the virus in the Republic climbed to 24 last night as three more people tested positive for the virus.
The Government has been forced to allocate €2.1bn in special measures, including €430m for the HSE to fight the impact of the virus.
However, it has had to raid the rainy day fund which was set aside to protect against the knock-on effects of a bad Brexit.
Mr Varadkar said: "Up to 50pc or 60pc could get the virus."
The Taoiseach admitted a significant number of patients will need critical care - it might be less than 1pc, but it may be higher.
The three new cases of the virus announced include a female healthcare worker from the south who was infected by somebody already positive.
The two other cases also involved women - one in the west and the other in the south. There was relief they were not picked up in the community.
Hundreds of patients across the mid-west and Cork University Hospital had surgery and out-patient clinics cancelled yesterday in response to the strain of the virus.
A spokesman for the University Hospital Limerick group said that in any day there are 861 out-patient appointments and 259 day surgeries carried out across the hospitals.
Almost all out-patient clinics and elective surgeries have been cancelled across the group today and tomorrow.
Asked if Ireland should implemented an Italian style lock-down which is now in place across the country, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said if it was enforced now the population would be fatigued.
He indicated that depending on how the virus spreads in terms of clusters of cases there may be different measures implemented in various parts of the country.
Workers will get higher emergency sick pay worth €305-a-week during the outbreak. State-funded Illness Benefit is set to rise by more than €100-a-week as part of a €2.4bn package of temporary income supports.
The payment will increase by 50pc from its current level of €203-a-week to €305.