Fianna Fáil Senator Eugene Murphy has appealed to people to support Irish businesses if purchasing goods online in the coming weeks, as the Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions will have “crippling economic and societal impacts”.

Level 5 restrictions will be in place from midnight tonight (Wednesday, October 21). All non-essential retail has to close, with bars, cafes, restaurants and wet pubs restricted to providing take-away and delivery services only.

The Roscommon–Galway senator says that as the country prepares for what is to come over the next six weeks, people need to “batten down the hatches” and try their best to get through with the chance of some reprieve for the Christmas and New Year period.

“I understand how difficult it will be for people and particularly for those businesses who have to shut their doors yet again. I know it will cause huge grief and financial strain for businesses; so I would urge people who are shopping online to buy Irish and support local businesses online,” he said.

The senator is also reminding businesses to contact their Local Enterprise Office to find out more about the Trading Online Voucher Scheme, offering financial assistance in the form of a 90% grant of up to €2,500, along with training and advice to help businesses to drive online sales.

“With non-essential retail closed for the next number of weeks, this scheme could be a vital life link for many businesses to develop an online presence or organise a click and collect service,” he said.

Vital for schools and creches to stay open

The senator added that it is “vital” that schools and creches remain open throughout Level 5 restrictions, for the emotional and educational well-being of children and young people, along with local sports training in small numbers.

“Parents or guardians who are trying to work from home need the schools to remain open and children need the structure and interaction with their peers – it is so important for their emotional well-being and the statistics have shown that positivity rates among schools [are] significantly lower.

“The concerns of teachers must also be listened [to] as part of the ongoing efforts to keep schools open.”