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Ireland extends emergency pandemic unemployment payment

·1-min read

DUBLIN (Reuters) - The Irish government on Wednesday said it would retain its Pandemic Unemployment Payment at the current rate at least until the end of March after it announced the closure of non-essential retail to help curb a surge in COVID-19 infections.

In the coming weeks around 350,000 people are likely to be claiming the payment, which had been due to be reduced from the start of February, deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said.

Around 50,000 people lost their jobs on Christmas Eve when bars and restaurants were ordered to close and another 400,000 are likely be laid off in the next few days due to the closure of retail outlets, Varadkar said.

The country's wage subsidy scheme will remain in place to help employers retain staff and commercial rates will be waived until the end of March, Varadkar said.

(Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)