Sligo Businesses need to benefit from rapid delivery of pandemic supports – and an exit strategy from Covid-19

By Aidan Doyle, CEO Sligo Chamber.

The move to Level 5 restrictions is a big blow for businesses in Sligo and the wider region – there is no doubt about that.

Here at Sligo Chamber, we have seen at first-hand the devasting impact the virus is having on businesses and business owners in our region.

We know how challenging it is to run a business, and how difficult it is for employees and their families who rely on their jobs, to face these unexpected difficulties.

This next period, as we face towards Christmas, is critical. We believe that with good management and quick actions – the Government can help to soften the blow and blunt the impacts caused by the lockdown.

We believe that if the Government uses this time wisely, it can do much to help the business community.

It can do in in several ways:

  1. Ensuring rapid delivery of supports for businesses impacted by this new wave of restrictions.
  2. Making certain that these restrictions serve their purpose in reducing spread of Covid-19.
  3. Putting in place the measures that will avoid a draining cycle of so-called Sawtooth lockdowns – a lockdown followed by a reopening and then followed by another lockdown.

For businesses in the Sligo region the Government needs to ensure the appropriate infrastructure is in place to support local economies to re-open safely and avoid succumbing to new closures into the new year.

Supports for businesses must be implemented with even greater urgency than they were in the first wave of Covid-19.

If supports are to be effective at maintaining employment they need to be of immediate benefit to the affected businesses.

The time for mentoring and vouchers to be considered as solutions has passed.

The Covid-19 Restriction Support Scheme must also be made available and accessed immediately, or we will see huge numbers, particularly from the retail sector, laid off in the weeks leading up to Christmas

A credible exit strategy needs to be developed by Government on how we are to avoid successive waves of opening and closing the economy.

The worst-case scenario for the economy would be to enter a series of sawtooth lockdowns and re-openings due to the significant costs associated with reopening and restocking businesses.

Uncertainty is devastating for businesses owners and operators who are already reeling from the blows that the Covid-19 shocks have dealt their businesses.

With limited capital reserves, and no appetite for new debt under such uncertainty, the support measures must ensure that businesses will be able to reopen after this new round of closures.

The constant drip-drip of leaked communications is undermining businesses, and confidence, at a regional and national level.

For our business community here in Sligo and the wider region, we join all other Chambers across Ireland in demanding clarity from government about the economic environment that businesses will be operating in once the restrictions are eased.