A survey of over 1,300 businesses across the country has found that 85% have either scaled back or closed completely as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions.

The research, carried out earlier this week by Chambers Ireland, also found that half of firms expect an immediate loss of revenue in excess of 60%, with smaller businesses affected most.

More than half of the companies that responded to the survey said they have now either reduced their activity or shut their front of house operations with staff now working from home.

One in three have closed their doors completely, with just 15% now fully open.

But being closed does still cost, with typical overheads being incurred of around €2,000 a week, rising to €5,000 for a quarter of firms.

The findings of the survey come amid growing calls from businesses for a roadmap detailing how restrictions could be lifted over the coming weeks and months.

It found half of firms will need at least two weeks notice before they will be able to re-open, while a quarter will require at least a month.

A small minority in sectors such as agri-food, tourism and hospitality said they will have to wait until next year to open their doors again.

Re-opening will incur a cost though for most companies, with the amount required typically €3,000, increasing to more than €8,000 for one in every four firms.

And that will all hit the bottom line, with almost two thirds of the hardest hit businesses predicting their earnings for this year will be less than half of what they had been expecting.

'We need a clear plan for re-opening the economy'

"With the above in mind, the question for many business owners is soon going to become not 'Can we keep going?', but 'Can we afford to reopen?'," said Chambers Ireland chief executive, Ian Talbot. 

"This data verifies what we have been telling Government over the past few weeks - we need a clear plan for re-opening the economy. 

"This includes advance notice of the dates that various sectors will re-open, a clear strategy on what sectors will re-open first, information on what protocol will need to be in place and whether support will be available to financially assist businesses to reopen," he added. 

Mr Talbot also said that businesses will need direct support from the Government if they are to re-open.

He said the objective of many of the supports like the Wage Subsidy Scheme had been to ensure employees are retained on payroll for when the economy re-opens. 

"What the business community needs to see now is a similar approach to ensuring that overheads, other than wages, receive some form of subsidy or grant," he said. 

"Without this aid, the chance of businesses successfully re-opening and maintaining employment is significantly reduced," he cautioned.