Chambers Ireland said today that there is a growing unease within the business community regarding the Government's pandemic planning.

Ian Talbot, Chambers Ireland chief executive, said there was a serious concern across the network that the country is moving towards another post-Christmas "circuit-breaker" lockdown.

"Businesses are paying the price for a continued lack of action among the unvaccinated, and as a result of a reduction in effective public health measures, such as masking, in the vaccinated population," Mr Talbot said.

His comments follow a meeting this morning of the Chambers of Commerce chief executives from around the country.

The members of the network expressed their concerns that the current increase in Covid cases is putting pressure on an already challenged health system and they added that Cabinet's actions yesterday are "half-measures" which are unlikely to have the effect that Government and society is hoping for.

There are serious concerns across the country that further measures will be needed in another few weeks.

Ian Talbot said that Chambers Ireland is calling for the Government to take decisive action to mitigate the need for another round of lockdowns.

Specifically the vaccine booster programme needs to be accelerated, he added.

Ian Talbot, the CEO of Chambers Ireland

"With almost 200,000 PCR tests being conducted on weekly basis, Covid-19 testing is becoming harder to access. Government needs to take immediate action on making antigen tests more obtainable," Mr Talbot said.

He also said that legislation needs to be brought forward to allow employers to require that their employees have a vaccinated status, where unvaccinated employees could pose a risk to others.

"The Finance Bill also needs to be amended to ensure that ministers will have the flexibility needed to ensure that state supports are not being withdrawn while lockdowns and other economic restrictions are simultaneously being reintroduced," the Chambers Ireland CEO said.

"Businesses need to ensure that the mask mandate is strictly enforced across all enclosed spaces, and Government needs to take action to ensure that businesses are enabled to do so," he added.

Sligo Chamber has criticised the Governments latest measures and called for decisive action to mitigate the need for another lockdown.

It described the latest actions to control the spread of Covid-19 as "no more than half-measures" which are "unlikely to have the effect that the Government and society is hoping for".

"While everyone shares the concern that the current increase in Covid cases is putting pressure on an already challenged health system, there is intolerable pressure growing on businesses across all sectors," it said.

"There is a need to remind ministers that it is impossible for businesses to operate in an environment where government recommendations, and public health advice, are undergoing reversals on a week-by-week basis.

Additional reporting: Eileen Magnier