Co-director of the Nevin Economic Research Institute Tom McDonnell has said the scale of the emergency response to the economic impact of Covid-19 must be "extremely large".

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said NERI is calling for a temporary wage compensation scheme where effectively the Government will agree to pay 75% of employees' wages for anyone who has lost their job or may lose their job.

"It should be retroactive and effectively the Government will subsidise or pay those wages," Mr McDonnell said.

He said NERI's proposal would ensure that all employees and all workers retain the entirety of their net income and that employees keep connected to the companies. 

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He said the cost of this is "affordable".

The emergency measures must remain in place for a 12 week period and possibly longer, he added. 

"When we move past the emergency phase there must be a major stimulus package to restart the economy including investment in housing," he stated.

Yesterday, Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty acknowledged that as many as 400,000 people could lose their jobs here as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The minister said that every single day there is another industry she did not think was going to be affected a day earlier.

Also yesterday, Aer Lingus said it will halve the working hours and pay of its 5,000 staff because of reductions in capacity and passenger travel due to the coronavirus.

Co Cavan-based insulation and building product manufacturer Kingspan said it would cut all staff pay for two months as a response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Several big retailers including Penneys, Ikea, Arnotts and Brown Thomas have also closed their stores in recent days. 

NERI's Tom McDonnell said that Covid-19 poses an unprecedented risk to life on the island of Ireland, but the economic impact of the virus also has the capacity to be fatal.