Important Information and FAQ’s
Thanks to John Hearne
What should I do if I feel sick?
The main symptoms of the virus can take up to 14 days to appear, and include a cough, fever (high temperature) or chills, shortness of breath or breathing difficulties. If you feel like this, do not go to your local doctor/GP, pharmacy or hospital. Instead, you need to stay at home, avoid contacts with others, and ring your doctor. They’ll assess you over the phone, and if needed, will arrange for you to be tested for the virus. Don’t ring 112/999 unless it’s an absolute emergency, as we need to keep those lines as free as possible.
Keep in mind that most people with coronavirus will only have mild symptoms & will get well within weeks. The biggest danger is in spreading the virus to others, especially older & more vulnerable people. You’ll need to self-isolate, which mainly means staying at home, washing your hands properly, avoiding others. The HSE has the best info on how to do it here: https://www2.hse.ie/…/self-isolation-and-limited-social-int…
SOCIAL WELFARE & SUPPORT
If you lose your job, there’s new & quick unemployment support. There’s a new, special Coronavirus unemployment payment available from today, for employees and the self-employed who have lost work. It’s a payment of €203 per week for up to six weeks.
To get this, you do not need to go to a social welfare office. You just need to fill in a short, one-page form and send it free of charge to FREEPOST PO BOX 12896 Dublin 1. If you have trouble accessing a printer, you can ring 01 2481398 and they will post the form to you. The form, and a short guide to filling it in, is here: https://assets.gov.ie/…/5df3b7f1f0fc454faefd8f906100ff99.pdf
This payment lasts six weeks, so long term you will need to apply to go on proper Jobseekers allowance. You have more time to get this sorted, and it’s very similar: you download a form to fill out and send it Freepost, depending on whether you’ve been laid off, are self-employed or have reduced hours. These forms are available here: www.gov.ie/jobseekers
I’m an employer with staff, what can I do?
If you’ve had to close or reduce people’s hours, the Govt can give support to help you keep paying your workers. A fund is being set up to refund you €203 per worker per week. If you maintain payment, workers can retain their link with employers and they don’t need to personally apply for jobseekers. These refunds will take time to process, but the State will pay them as soon as possible. Details here: https://www.gov.ie/…/965011-covid-19-introduction-of-simpl…/
If you’re sick, stay at home & you can get sick pay.
There’s a new illness benefit scheme that waives the normal waiting period and pays a bit more at the start. If you’re told to stay at home by your Doctor, or have been diagnosed with Coronavirus, you can receive payment as long as you’re no longer being paid by your employer. You can get €305 for two weeks, and then the normal illness benefit of €203 per week.
Once you’ve been instructed by your Doctor to self-isolate, they will complete a medical cert for you including your name, PPS No. and date of birth. They will then ask you to complete an illness benefit form (Form IB 1) yourself, which they can give you. Alternatively, you can call 01 2481398 for it to be posted to you, or ask a friend can collect at your doctor’s surgery or Intreo centre. Details available here: https://www.gov.ie/…/df55ae-how-to-apply-for-illness-benef…/
My hours have been reduced. Can I make up lost income?
Yes. If you’ve gone from full time to a 3-day week or less, you can apply for short-term income support to make up some of the difference. To apply, you’ll need to fill out a form yourself (UP1) and so will your employer (UP14). Both forms & info on the scheme are available here: https://www.gov.ie/…/service/c20e1b-short-time-work-support/
Can someone else collect my pension or other payments for me?
Yes. An Post has announced new arrangements where you can nominate someone to collect payment for you. They will need to show your payment Card, as well as their own photo ID (like a drivers license). They can get a form at the post office to complete giving them permission to collect for you, or download the form at the bottom of the page here: https://www.anpost.com/…/Special-arrangements-in-place-for-…
I’m abroad, what can I do?
The Department of Foreign Affairs is providing all the key advice here (https://dfa.ie/travel/travel-advice/coronavirus/). Any Irish citizens abroad experiencing difficulty with cancelled flights etc. can call a dedicated helpline on +353(0)16131733. It’s much better to ring this number first rather than a local Embassy, who are being swamped with calls. The DFA are making arrangements with airlines to try to help people home quicker. You can also speak with them live online here: www.dfa.ie/travel/contact/
We need to stay at home, but also mind our mental health.
In general, we should all be keeping our distance from others, and staying at home for everything that’s non-essential. This is vital to stopping the virus from spreading fast & putting the hospitals under too much pressure.
However, we also need to mind our mental health. It’s a really good idea to get out, go for a walk, kick a ball, get some fresh air and stay active. You can walk in a local park and still maintain a safe 2m distance from other people. Some good mental health advice here: www.yourmentalhealth.ie
Where can I get reliable information?
We’re in a quickly changing environment and lots of false and misleading info is being spread on WhatsApp and social media. The best & most reliable place for all the information you need, including hygiene tips, updates on steps taken (like closing schools and pubs) is www.hse.ie/coronavirus. It’s also a good idea to follow Waterford In Your Pocket, @CMOIreland, @ronan_glynn, @MerrionStreet, @roinnslainte & @HSELive on social media channels for regular updates on steps taken.