The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and its agencies have been focused on coming up with solutions to help businesses overcome the challenges presented by the arrival of the Covid-19 virus. I recognise the difficulties and concerns that events businesses are facing and those businesses that rely on events companies for trade shows, exhibitions, events etc.. to promote and sell their products.
Ensuring that measures are in place to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 at organised and ticketed events with members of the public attending is first and foremost a public health concern. The Deputy is correct, however, to identify the real concern regarding the number of people working in the events industry. Last week, I met representatives of the Event Production Industry Covid-19 Working Group, EPIC. It is a new group, as the Deputy will be well aware of, because its representatives outlined how helpful he has been since its formation. The group represents 3,500 full-time and 15,000 part-time employees.
The Deputy is correct that 2020 is a write-off for these companies because of the magnitude of the events in which the industry participates. They are now facing the issue of skills retention, as well as issues in respect of brand Ireland because these companies promote Ireland in St. Patrick's Day parades, the new year's eve festival, etc. It is important that the July stimulus recognises that this is also a critical sector of the economy. As the Tánaiste said earlier, the July stimulus will be ambitious, it will look at how we can protect employees and it will look at how we can expand the restart grant to accommodate people not normally accommodated. I also refer to the credit guarantee scheme enabling businesses such as event companies to refinance. I met them in that context, but I also asked officials in my Department to meet the representative groups in the days to come to see how we can support this industry in the future.