Many small businesses will be forced to close and cut jobs if the Government does not quickly launch the Covid Business Aid Scheme (CBAS).
That is according to the Small Firms Association, which has called for the €60m in supports aimed at businesses that are ineligible for other Covid supports to be rolled out.
“Hundreds of small business owners in the supply chain have suffered severe falls in revenue and sales because of the crisis but have not been allowed access the same relief as non-essential retail, tourism, and hospitality businesses,” said Sven Spollen-Behrens, Director of the Small Firms Association.
“These firms are suffering just as equally and need to see CBAS rolled out in the next few weeks or else they will be forced to close.”
Mr Spollen-Behrens said it was disappointing that the new Covid plan, announced by the Government last night, provided no clarity for these so-called “orphaned” small businesses.
He welcomed the extension of economic supports until the end of June.
“These will go a long way to ensure eligible businesses do not go under and jobs are saved,” he said.
Meanwhile, retailers said they were disappointed and frustrated by the Government’s latest Covid plan.
Retail Excellence said the extension of the current restrictions, including on non-essential retail, to at least April offered nothing to its members other than “wait and see”.
“We believe the Government needs to do more and to signal some concrete steps that can pave the way towards a full reopening of retail in due course,” said Duncan Graham, chief executive.
“The first step is the reintroduction of Click and Collect. It’s a modest proposal but it could be done overnight and it would demonstrate to retailers that there is some hope down the line.”
The organisation also wants a roadmap to full reopening, including reopening of garden centres on St Patrick’s Day, shopping by appointment in all stores from Easter and a full reopening of retail from May 1.
Tourism leaders also expressed disappointment with the Government’s announcement.
The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) also said more clarity was needed around a reopening timetable for its members.
CEO Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, said additional financial support would be required while the tourism industry was closed and demand non-existent as firms are “teetering on the brink”.
He also expressed concern that there was no mention of restoring international connectivity.
“As an island nation Ireland is exclusively dependent on air and sea access and we must plan a restoration of connectivity in a safe manner with a scale-able testing regime as well as exploring the use of health passports,” he said.
“We can’t leave a “closed sign” above the country for tourism reasons as well as broader economic ones”.