The Irish SME Association (ISME) has written to all TDs in Ireland to express its grave concern at the latest national "lockdown" due to Covid-19. 

ISME told the TDs that it believes there are more effective, evidence-based and successful ways to respond to Covid-19, other than an arbitrary national lockdown. 

The association called on TDs to use their position in Dáil Eireann to ensure that that Government responds in a more effective, strategic and sympathetic manner to the pandemic.

ISME represents more than 10,000 businesses across Ireland, equating to over 256 businesses across each Dáil constituency.

Neil McDonnell, CEO of ISME, said that because it was important to afford the public health effort time to respond to the pandemic, ISME had been very reluctant to engage in criticism. 

"However, it is no longer a sustainable position for us to remain silent and we can no longer tolerate a situation where the State's only response to Covid-19 is to repeatedly furlough tens of thousands of workers," Neil McDonnell said. 

ISME said it was especially concerned to see "non-essential" retail and personal grooming forced to close once more.

This is despite the HSE's epidemiological data demonstrating that these sectors were responsible for only 0.3% of the cases of Covid-19 transmission. 

"Behaviours across other elements of society have caused a resurgence of Covid-19 in Ireland; not the retail and grooming sectors, which have been arbitrarily penalised," ISME said in today's letter.

ISME also criticised the fact that NPHET appears exclusively committed to PCR testing as the methodology of testing here.

It said that while PCR is regarded as the gold-standard of Covid-19 testing, it is expensive and slow and it noted that other countries have introduced significantly less costly testing methods with much faster results such as antigen testing.

"Despite our National Virus Reference Laboratory at UCD strongly advocating for the retention of PCR testing as our main testing methodology, they announced the inability of staff to test over two consecutive recent weekends," IMSE said. 

"This is simply unacceptable in the midst of a national crisis, when people are having their livelihoods swept from under them," it added.

Neil McDonnell said that Ireland is running with lockdown as the only shot in its gun. 

"This approach is a recipe for failure, and it will cause untold misery, ill-health, and recession throughout society," he said.

Mr McDonnell said this lockdown is the last chance for NPHET and the HSE to put in place a robust plan for living with Covid-19. 

"If this is not done by the end of this lockdown in December, the Government must take action, reduce and reconstitute NPHET, and ensure it has access to expert, peer-reviewed, external advisors," he added.