The Small Firms Association has said the Government's reopening plan announced this evening gives hope to small business owners.

Under the plan, sectors will begin reopening on a phased basis from 10 May.

Sven Spollen-Behrens, Director of the Small Firms Association said he is pleased to see indicative dates for a wider reopening of businesses.

"This is something that SFA has been pressing for and we are pleased to see Government has taken on board business concerns," he said.

While Mr Spollen-Behrens said the easing of restrictions is welcome, he said it doesn't mean this crisis is over for small employers.

"These businesses are saddled with debt and will continue to experience financial difficulties," he said.

The SFA has been calling for the full range of Covid-19 business supports to be kept in place for as long as needed.

It welcomed confirmation this evening from Taoiseach Micheál Martin that there will be no cliff edge in financial supports for businesses.

Return to office roadmap

However, the SFA said it is regrettable that a return to office roadmap was not announced as part of this evening's announcement.

"Guidance on when a partial and gradual return to offices is needed to allow small firms to prepare and put systems and controls in place before they reopen their offices to employees," the statement said.

Ibec, the group that represents Irish business also called for further clarity on the protocols of the gradual return to offices.

In a press conference this evening, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the advice remains to work from home where possible, saying it is 'unlikely' workers will return to the office before September.

Ibec CEO Danny McCoy said the Government must provide confidence to employers and employees that the safety and wellbeing of people at work can be securely managed as the economy reopens.

"This includes preparing for increases in the demand for public transport over the coming weeks and months, and this reality should be reflected in the provision of additional services, where possible, including the welcome increase in the capacity limit to 50% from the start of May," he said.