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Sinn Féin calls for closure of non-essential businesses in bid to contain coronavirus

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Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (Niall Carson/PA)

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (Niall Carson/PA)

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (Niall Carson/PA)

SINN Féin has called for all non-essential businesses in the country to be shutdown in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus, 

Mary Lou McDonald said it was “not plausible or credible” for people to socially distance in their own lives and then be sent to work in “unsafe workplaces ”

She said that supermarkets, petrol stations, pharmacies, public and emergency services should remain open but that restaurants should close. However, restaurants providing takeaway or delivery services should remain open, she said.

The Dublin Central TD claimed that building sites should close citing an example of one site where 400 people are working and there is only one tap with hot water for workers to keep their clean hands.

“I think it's obvious now at this stage that we're at the point where the emergency measures to protect people need to step up very significantly. We believe that we're at the point now where we need to have a shut down of all non-essential businesses,” she said.

Calling for the immediate closure of all non-essential businesses she said “delays cost lives” and said a new income support scheme should be put in place for the thousands of more workers who would lose their jobs. Sinn Féin has proposed a scheme where anyone who earns up to €32,500 a year would receive their full wage for the next 20 weeks.

Ms McDonald made the call at Leinster House on Monday ahead of a meeting of political party leaders with the Taoiseach and Government officials on Monday.

Speaking earlier, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin called for more restrictions but stopped short of calling for a full lockdown of the country. “We do need more severe restrictions in addition to what we currently have,” he said, calling for a stronger clampdown on public gatherings in particular.

He said that a much more substantive package of support for laid-off workers was needed including the State covering around three-quarters of salaries as is happening in Denmark.

Mr Martin also said that health authorities need to disclose more information about where clusters of Covid-19 outbreaks are located, including naming specific towns so that people are more likely to adhere to the guidelines on social distancing.

“It could change behaviour in a good way as people would be a bit more conscious of the situation in their locality and they would behave accordingly,” he said.

He said there would be further discussions on Government formation with Fine Gael this week including an exchange of policy papers, but said “there is very little in terms of a programme for government” negotiated to date.

Asked whether he would be prepared to allow Leo Varadkar continue as Taoiseach to deal with the crisis if a government is formed, Mr Martin said he had spoken to the Fine Gael leader a number of weeks ago about this and there was “a clear understanding about how that would develop”.

Mr Martin said "the scale of the economic intervention will be enormous" to deal with the unfolding crisis and called for greater supports for businesses impacted, including more zero interest or negative interest loans.

Online Editors