COVID19 (Coronavirus) Updates and Links to Official Supports and Information

VAI along with so many other people and organisations are making and reviewing decisions based on current government guidelines and will keep you updated on our website News section and with emails to our members.

We have outlined the official supports available during the crisis below.

The Department of Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht have an Arts Unit that VAI members, artists and people in the arts sector in general who have questions about the Government supports available to them, can email their question to and include a telephone number. The Arts Unit will try to respond to them by email or phone as soon as possible.

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Income Support Helpline for COVID -19 is 1890 800 024 (Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm).

For queries on all DEASP Schemes and other supports available contact Citizens Information 0761 07 4000.

Contact our VAI Help Desk at 01 6729488 and


Official Supports Available during the COVID-19 Crisis

  1. Income Support Schemes

  2. Funding for Artists & Arts Organisations

  3. Primary References and Go to places for information


1. Income Support Schemes

COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

From Department of Social Protection

Published at 

Last updated 

What the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment is

The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment is available to employees and the self-employed who have lost their job on or after 13 March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications will now be accepted until the end of 2020.

How to qualify

You can apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment if you:

  • are aged between 18 and 66 years old and
  • are currently living in the Republic of Ireland and
  • have lost your job due to the COVID-19 pandemic or
  • have been temporarily laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic or
  • were self-employed and your trading income has ceased or reduced due to COVID-19 to the extent that you would be available to take up full-time employment and
  • are not in receipt of any income from an employer and
  • are genuinely seeking work

The payment also applies if you:
  • worked in the Republic of Ireland or were a cross border frontier worker or
  • are a non-EU/EEA worker who has lost employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic or
  • are a student (or a non-EU/EEA student) who has lost employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic or
  • are living in Direct Provision and have lost employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic or
  • are a part-time worker

You cannot qualify for this payment if you:
  • voluntarily left your employment or self-employment
  • do not meet the above criteria

You must also inform the department if your circumstances change.

The department can confirm that there are no plans in place to share any data we receive as part of an immigrant’s application for a COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment with GNIB or the Department of Justice and Equality.

Rate of payment

From 16 October 2020 until 31 January 2021 the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment will be paid at 4 rates.

This rate change was announced on 19 October. It is effective from Friday 16 October, therefore payments made on Tuesday 27 October will include the new rate of €350.

  • if you earned €400 or more – you will receive €350
  • if you earned between €300 and €399.99 per week – the rate of the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment is €300 per week
  • if you earned between €200 and €299.99 per week – the rate of the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment will be €250 per week
  • if you earned less than €200 per week – you will receive €203 per week, which is the same as the primary rate of Jobseeker’s Benefit

The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment is paid in arrears, with the payment week running from Friday to Thursday.

Payment is made by electronic transfer (for example, into your bank or credit union account) and only into accounts held in Irish financial institutions. You can also choose to collect your payment at a post office.

You can nominate your local post office when applying online and you will need to bring a form of ID with you when collecting your payment at the post office. Payments will be made into a bank or credit union account or to a nominated post office every Tuesday once an application is processed.

If you were working and were also in receipt of any social welfare payment such as a Carer’s Payment, Working Family Payment (WFP) or One-Parent Family Payment, you can, provided you have lost your job due to COVID-19, also claim the COVID-19 emergency payment, in addition to retaining your existing welfare payment.

The COVID-19 Payment Unemployment Payment will replace your employment income and will be regarded by the department as equivalent to employment income.


New applications for this payment will be accepted until the end of 2020.

The quickest and easiest way to apply for this payment is online at

If you return to work and lose your employment due to the pandemic, you can re-apply for this payment at any time until the end of 2020.

All you need to apply for the payment is a basic MyGovID account.

It is very important to fill in your bank details correctly – you will need your BIC and IBAN to apply.

If you need information or further assistance please contact the Income Support Helpline

Apply by post

To request a form and apply by post please email .

Earning Self Employment Income

You can earn up to €480 gross through self-employment over a four-week period and retain your full COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

The €480 limit is based on gross income (before tax and PRSI) minus expenses.

A new scheme, the COVID-19 Part Time Job Incentive for the Self-Employed is a further support available to self-employed people who are in receipt of the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment or a Jobseeker’s payment and are resuming self-employment part time.

How to close your claim

You must stop your payment on your first day back to work.

Learn more about closing your claim.

How to repay COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payments

If you have received a payment for COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment and you were not entitled to it, you can find out how to refund the department here.


Income Support Helpline for COVID-19

Phone number:


Enhanced Illness Benefit

If a worker is told to self-isolate or diagnosed with COVID-19, they can apply for a COVID-19 enhanced Illness Benefit payment of €350 per week.

Both employees and self-employed people can qualify for the COVID-19 enhanced Illness Benefit.

On 6 August 2020, the Government announced that workers who live in direct provision who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or who have been advised to self-isolate, can access the COVID-19 enhanced Illness Benefit.

If you are ill for another reason or self-isolating because you are medically vulnerable, you should apply for standard Illness Benefit.

You can read more about your employment rights during COVID-19 restrictions and social welfare payments and COVID-19.


You can apply for enhanced Illness Benefit, if you:

  • Are suspected of having COVID-19 and are told by a doctor or the Health Service Executive (HSE) to self-isolate or
  • Are diagnosed with COVID-19

To qualify for COVID-19 enhanced Illness Benefit, you must:

  • Be aged between 18 and 66
  • Have a medical certificate called a ‘Certificate of incapacity for work’ from a doctor or have a text or letter notification from the HSE to support your application
  • Be employed or self-employed and have worked in the 4 weeks before the date of your medical certification
  • Have a current contract of employment, if you are an employee

To get the payment, you must have a medical certificate called a ‘Certificate of incapacity for work’ from your own doctor or have a letter or text notification from the HSE telling you that you have been identified as having contact with someone who has COVID-19.

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 or if you are medically required to self-isolate, there are no waiting days for payment of enhanced Illness Benefit.

COVID-19 enhanced Illness Benefit is a temporary measure during the public health emergency. It will be in place until 31 March 2021.

Illness Benefit contact centre – (01) 704 3300 or 1890 928 400

For more see HERE.

Other Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Schemes

If you were unemployed before the pandemic you may apply for regular DEASP schemes. If you are employed or self employed but your hours working have been reduced rather than stopped you may be eligible for other DEASP income support schemes. Some schemes listed below. We recommend that you contact Citizens Information directly for advice on what scheme would be best for your situation, call them on 0761 074000.

A full list of Schemes available here:

See also other means tested supports are available such as Fuel Allowance and Rent Supplement

We always recommend to artists that contacting Citizens Information can help to find out what is the best scheme to apply for, as they will look at your situation as a whole – income, means, dependents etc. and advise on what scheme is best. Their number is 0761 07 4000.

Grants for self-employed people

If you are self-employed and have closed your COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, you may be able to get an Enterprise Support Grant of up to €1000. The grant is to help small business reopen. You must apply for the grant within 4 weeks of closing your COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment claim.

How to qualify

The Grant will be awarded to self-employed people who:

  • are tax and PRSI compliant
  • are not liable for commercial rates
  • have been in receipt of the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment and have closed their claim on or after 18 May 2020
  • have reopened their business which was closed due to the pandemic
  • employ less than 10 people
  • have an annual turnover of less than €1 million
  • are not eligible for the COVID-19 Business Restart Grant or similar COVID-19 business restart grants from other government departments
  • can produce VAT receipts/invoices in respect of business restart costs and expenses claimed, if requested to do so by the department

Rate of payment

Funding will be awarded for eligible costs up to a maximum of €1,000.

Grants will be awarded on costs related to reopening your business, including:

  • safety measures
  • business advice or mentoring
  • repairs
  • fuel
  • wages

Normal business costs are not generally included.


Complete the COVID-19 ESG 1 application form  and return it to your local Intreo Centre.

You can find more information about supports for businesses impacted by COVID-19.

2. Funding for Artists & Organisations

Arts Council

The Arts Council has a number of Grants and Awards schemes that are currently open for applications. These can be found on the Arts Council Website:

A table of Funding Opportunities in 2021 can be viewed here:…Funding..Programmes…2021.pdf

Department of Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht

For more see:

All City and County Councils allocate annual funding for the arts, they will have a deadline to apply each year, this varies from county to county. It is a good idea to call or to make contact with your local arts officer to find out about funding available in your area and be added to their mailing list for updates. There may be other strands of funding you can access locally such as a Social Enterprise Grant Scheme. You can find contact details for your local arts officer here: Local Authority Arts Offices.

Other Opportunities

VAI continues to receive notices of Jobs and Opportunities that are open to individual artists. This includes open calls for exhibitions, residencies and funding opportunities We will update these on our website as a matter of urgency, and will continue to publish them via the eBulletin and Social Media.
Go to Jobs & Opportunities.


3. Primary References and Go to places for information

Government Guidelines:

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Income Support Helpline for COVID -19: 1890 800 024 (Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm)

Citizens Information
We always recommend Citizens Information for advice that is not specific to our sector and in particular any advice needed on Social Welfare. You can reach them on 0761 074000 and there is extensive information on their website

MABS – Money Advice and Budgeting Service
MABS is the State’s money advice service, guiding people through dealing with problem debt for more than twenty years.

MABS is free, confidential and independent. MABS Helpline is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm at 0761 07 2000, if you would like to call and discuss your debt issues. MABS will look at your debt as a whole to find the best solution for your situation. MABS can negotiate with creditors, advise on budgeting and on recording your spending.
Read more about MABS.


Department of Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht –

HSE on Coronavirus (COVID-19):

Threshold –

Contact our VAI Help Desk at 01 6729488 and

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