September 28, 2023

COVID-19 LATEST: 12 more deaths and 76 new cases, Taoiseach warns of clampdown on pandemic payments

A further 12 people have died after contracting the coronavirus as 76 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed this evening.

It brings the overall death toll as a result of the virus to 1,583. There are now 24,391 cases of Covid-19 in the country, the Department of Health said in its latest daily update.

The latest figures reflect a welcome downturn in fatalities over the past week, further underlining the flattening of the corinavirus curve in Ireland.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has warned there will be a clampdown on people who are asked to return to work but refuse in order to keep receiving the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP).

Mr Varadkar said that if a person is offered their job back after the pandemic but refuse to take it, they will lose eligibility.

“If somebody is offered their job back and they refuse to take their job back, they lose eligibility for the payment,” he told Newstalk earlier.

“We will need to do a bit of enforcement around that but before we start to do any of these things, we wanted to make sure that people could actually [live].”

The Taoiseach said it is “not fair” and “not sustainable” that some people may be earning more from the payment than in their jobs, such as students who previously worked a shift a week.

He said that this happened due to decisions being made quickly.

“We said the best thing to do would be to give everyone maybe 70pc or 80pc of their previous income and, with that volume of people losing their jobs so quickly, we worked out within hours that it would take weeks to administer that and half a million people would have been left with little or no money for a very long period time.”

The Taoiseach also said schools will reopen in September if the virus remains under control and “all things remain equal”.

But he warned: “There is the risk of the virus coming back again and spreading again. It’s not intended that schools will open until September but we are looking at how we’re going to do that now and it does require a bit of planning.

“There’s never going to be 100% no risk unfortunately.”

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