As second Irish lockdown ends, central bank announces record savings


Pandemic distancing sign at football pitch in Charlestown in the west of Ireland (Simon Roughneen)

Pandemic distancing sign at football pitch in Charlestown in the west of Ireland (Simon Roughneen)

DUBLIN — Ireland’s banks have been flooded with record savings in 2020 after government restrictions forced many pubs, retailers and restaurants to close for months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Central Bank of Ireland announced on Monday that household bank deposits in October hit “the highest on record,” reaching 123 billion euros (147 billion dollars).

Some of those savings are unlikely to last, with Retail Ireland, an industry body, on Monday predicting an extra 1.2 billion euros would be spent over Christmas.

Many retailers will reopen on Tuesday as Ireland’s second coronavirus lockdown ends after six weeks.

Retail Ireland said earlier this month that “footfall in Irish retail has fallen more than anywhere else in Europe.”

Public religious worship cam also resume on Tuesday, while restaurants and pubs that serve food are set to reopen on Friday.

However, around 3,500 pubs which have been closed since March – aside from a two-week period – will not be permitted to reopen yet. The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland slammed the continued shutdown as showing “scant logic” given that bigger pubs that double as restaurants can reopen.

Despite Ireland’s government imposing some of Europe’s longest and widest-ranging restrictions, according to a University of Oxford index, survey findings released Monday by the Central Statistics Office suggest 71 per cent of people accepted the second lockdown as “appropriate.”

However the survey also showed a doubling since Ireland’s first March-May lockdown of people feeling “downhearted or depressed” and an increase to almost 36 per cent of those who see “overall life satisfaction as low” – up from below 9 per cent in 2018.

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