General Secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation Phil Ní Sheaghdha has said the recruitment embargo on nurses and midwives has been lifted from today. 

She said the Health Service Executive confirmed this with the INMO and said while it is welcome, she believes it "should have happened much earlier." 

Speaking on RTÉ's Saturday with Cormac Ó hEadhra Ms Ní Sheaghdha said: "Any nurse will be recruited on the agreed rate. That is not the issue. The issue is we need people to be appointed permanently to the health service."

She said hospitals and community care centres are under huge pressure amid the coronavirus outbreak and said frontline health workers need full protection. 

She said: "That includes any opportunity that we can get to prevent spread in the community.

"We already have a shortage of staff and frontline staff and we have to reduce the activities in order to match what we can provide safely."

Ms Ní Sheaghdha added they know the number of coronavirus cases will increase and testing has increased.

Meanwhile, the HSE said there will be no barriers to the recruitment of the workforce that is required to support clinical services during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The HSE says it is also expediting all other avenues in terms of those on panels and awaiting appointment, those who have left the service for reasons of retirement, career break, secondments etc are also being identified and contacted. 

The HSE said it will ensure that every method of engaging staff that are required for managing services at this time are maximised. 

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Meanwhile, Chief Executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland Adrian Cummins said the tourism industry is in "serious trouble" because of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Also speaking on RTÉ's Saturday with Cormac Ó hEadhra, Mr Cummins said this week there has been a dramatic decline in tourist numbers and in people visiting premises. 

He said: "Our industry is down around 80% in the last five days, specifically in urban areas like Dublin and Cork."

He said having looked at bookings over the next while he believes the tourist industry is in serious trouble and that smaller businesses will be "affected gravely".

He added: "Business owners are looking at how they will mitigate against this and put in contingency plans."

He said the banks need to be asked to help business owners in providing short term capital to keep those businesses afloat. 

"If we don't do that, we will see business owners closing their doors.