Businesses ‘all want to rehire staff and get back to serving community’

By Mary Dennehy

AS THE country enters Phase 2 of Ireland’s roadmap for re-opening, The Echo spoke with Colm Brophy TD about his role on the Covid-19 Committee and why he supports a reduction in the social distancing rule from two meters to one.

The 19-member, cross-party Special Committee on Covid-19 was established to ‘consider and take evidence’ on the State’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Colm Brophy compressor

Colm Brophy, TD

“The Covid-19 Committee was established by the Dáil to look at how Ireland handled the current crisis which we are all living through and how we can learn from the decisions made and use that knowledge as a guide to make better decisions in the future”, Deputy Brophy told The Echo.

“I was asked by the Taoiseach to be one of the Fine Gael members of the Committee.

“I view my role as both a local and a national role.

“I am there representing my constituents in terms of asking the questions they have raised with me and looking at the bigger national picture about how this has effected every person, business, organisation and community in our country.

“In recent weeks we have examined the impact of the lockdown, why so many people died in our nursing homes, is it right to have travel restrictions this summer and at what speed should the country unlock to ensure that people can get back to work but also remain safe.”

According to Deputy Brophy, a key part of the Committee’s work has been talking with businesses about how to get Ireland open and back to work.

“I have personally supported a reduction in the social distancing rule from two metres to one metre to ensure maximum opportunities for businesses and shops in Tallaght to reopen”, Deputy Brophy said.

“I have been contacted by up to 80 small businesses in the Tallaght area and throughout the constituency, all of whom want to reopen but need to have this reduction.

“These include local restaurants, hairdressers and pubs, to name just a few.

“They all want to rehire their staff and get back to serving the community.”

He added: “On a national level I have raised at the committee the establishment of a national recovery task force which would bring all the social partners, government, employee, unions, voluntary groups together.

“It will look at how best to change and innovate in the areas of regulations, taxation, economic policy and any area that is required that helps get Ireland back to work.

“The task force must always take into account the medical advice provided by the Chief medical officer and his team in making its recommendations.”

Looking forward, Deputy Brophy said: “The Committee will continue to work on providing advice and guidance to government for the coming months and I would urge the new Government to listen to the ideas emanating from it and work with it.”

On Monday, June 5, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD confirmed that Ireland could move to Phase 2 of the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business.

The Government also announced an acceleration of the Roadmap, made possible due to the progress made by the country in suppressing the virus.

An acceleration means that certain sectors and public amenities can open earlier than previously planned, with the Roadmap now having four Phases instead of five.

However, as the country moves into Phase 2, people are asked to continue limiting travel and to stay local.

The Government also highlighted the importance of people continuing to stick to basic hygiene and social distancing measures; wash hands regularly, keep 2 metres apart, observe coughing etiquette and avoid crowded places.

For further details on Phase 2 and guidelines and advice on re-opening Ireland, visit www.gov.ie.

For the latest information and advice on Covid-19 visit www.hse.ie.

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