Quarter of Irish business closed due to virus

Almost a quarter of businesses in Ireland have ceased trading during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey published by the country’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) on Friday.

The results of an online survey of 3,000 businesses in Ireland, conducted by the CSO from March 16 to April 19, showed that in the period 0.6 percent of the businesses surveyed had ceased trading permanently, nearly 23.4 percent had ceased trading temporarily, and 76 percent continued to trade.

However, the impact of COVID-19 on different sectors varies sharply, said the CSO, adding that nearly 71 percent of enterprises in the construction sector had ceased trading either temporarily or permanently while in the accommodation and food services sector, 88.1 percent.

The survey also showed that nearly 35 percent of the businesses have let their staff go temporarily while 32 percent have decreased working hours.

Almost half of the businesses surveyed said that they had availed of the Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS), an emergency plan launched by the government to help local businesses survive the crisis.

Under the scheme, the government agrees to pay 70 to 85 percent of the salaries of employees working for companies whose businesses have been seriously impacted by the pandemic, provided employers promise to keep their employees on the payroll throughout the crisis.

The maximum amount for most of the people subsidized under the scheme is 410 euros (about 450 U.S. dollars) per head per week.

Up till April 27, over 49,000 employers in Ireland had registered for the TWSS and more than 427,000 workers are now having their wages subsidized by the government under the scheme, according to the Irish Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

Introduced in late March, the TWSS will remain valid for an initial period of 12 weeks.