DUBLIN, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Ireland hopes to get people back
to work in offices for some of the time from next year if it
succeeds in curbing coronavirus cases, its finance minister
Paschal Donohoe said on Thursday.
Residents in two of Ireland's 26 counties, including the
financial centre Dublin, must work from home unless absolutely
necessary to attend in person under recently imposed rules.
Ireland has reopened its economy more slowly than many of
its European partners and has encouraged people to work from
home if possible since March. That advice remains in place for
the rest of the country.
"I think we gravely underestimate the impact on our citizens
of not being able to go into work. Having workplaces functioning
is at the heart of how we develop skills... and this is a skills
based economy," Donohoe told a parliamentary committee.
While some offices have partly reopened since a nationwide
lockdown began to be lifted in May, many have remained closed
for the last six months.
Donohoe said this indirectly damaged retail and hospitality
businesses such as cafes and restaurants in city centres and the
government hoped to make changes if it got on top of the virus.
"As we move into 2021 I would hope we could refocus our
efforts in how we can ensure that employers who are able to make
their offices safe are able to facilitate some people working in
them some of the time," he said.
Ireland registered 92 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over
the past 14 days, a doubling in the rate of infection since the
middle of September and the 15th highest of 31 states monitored
by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin;
Editing by Alexander Smith)