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Golf and non-contact training could resume in March as new Covid Business Aid scheme unveiled

Golf and non-contact team sport training could be allowed to resume in March if the government chooses to relax Covid-19 restrictions.

So says Tanaiste Leo Varadkar who was speaking on Newstalk’s The Hard Shoulder yesterday evening.

The Fine Gael TD said that the government’s priority at present was to ensure the reopening of schools and construction – but he also gave a flavour of what else people may be allowed to do.

He said: “If you remember the way we reopened after the first wave, which was a pretty successful reopening, the kind of things that were done initially were outdoor.

“Outdoors is much safer so allowing people maybe to meet other people outdoors – the golf, outdoor retail that type of thing.

“I think you are much more likely to see that being allowed than personal services which is up close and personal and tends to be indoors and therefore a slightly higher risk, notwithstanding all the amazing work people that run those businesses did to make their businesses safe.

“There is the potential for two households to gather in a garden or public park.

“Potentially there will be elements of outdoor exercise that are not allowed at the moment.

“Like for example golf, like for example underage teams doing some form of training. The kind of things you would see in Level Four of the existing plan.”

Meanwhile, the government also published details of the new €160 million Covid Business Aid Scheme.

This is aimed at businesses that were deemed ineligible for the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS).

Wholesalers, suppliers, caterers and events companies down 75% or more in turnover are expected to benefit.

The fund will be administered by each local authority with an online application process being available at the end of this month.

Local Senator Fiona O’Loughlin encouraged Laois people to sign up to this scheme when it becomes available.

She said: ““The CBAS is a fund of €160m which would offer a payment of up to €8,000 for eligible businesses, in two instalments of €4,000 for Q1 and Q2.

“The aim of the CBAS is to support those businesses that are not eligible within the CRSS criteria but have faced significant declines in revenue due to public health restrictions and have continuing fixed costs.

“I am aware of many businesses fitting this profile such as business and meeting events companies, caterers, wholesalers, charity shops, photographers with studios and certain outdoor attractions.

“I am encouraging Laois businesses to make themselves aware of the new scheme and advise them that I will update the information as regards the application process as soon as its available.”

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.