The Government has imposed the first local lockdowns in Ireland, with counties Laois, Kildare and Offaly facing two weeks of restrictions from midnight 8 August until midnight 22 August. This is big blow to any businesses in these counties who have been ordered to close.
Under these local lockdown measures, cafés, restaurants and pubs in all three counties are required to close for two weeks, as well as cinemas, theatres, museums and gyms.
Travel is restricted to essential journeys only. And travelling to work in a different county is only permitted if the work cannot be done from home.
If the number of coronavirus cases continue to rise, the risk of similar local lockdowns in any affected areas may continue for months.
What to consider if your area goes into local lockdown
There are two main issues to consider:
- How your business can help reduce the number of coronavirus cases.
- The best way to manage staff if your business premises are ordered to close.
How your business can help reduce cases
The best way for your business to play its part in reducing the growing number of coronavirus cases is to ensure you’re complying with the Return to Work Safely Protocol and any public health measures that are specific to your industry.
Under the Return to Work Safely Protocol, every employer must have a robust COVID-19 Response Plan and a clearly defined response structure for dealing with any suspected case of coronavirus in your workforce.
Most industry associations have developed specific guidelines for businesses in their industries, and you should follow these as closely as possible.
If your business is ordered to close
Allow staff to work from home if possible. Remote working is at the discretion of you, the employer, but it could be a way to keep your business running through a short-term local lockdown.
If working from home isn’t an option, you might have to consider a period of lay off for your employees—providing the contract of employment allows it. Alternatively, you could allow staff to use accrued annual leave or other types of unpaid leave.
Although the Government has indicated it’s unlikely to repeat national lockdown measures, the restrictions in Laois, Kildare and Offaly show us that areas reporting high number of COVID-19 cases will be subject to local lockdown—so make sure your business is prepared.