Irish COVID-19 jobless claims level off ahead of reopening

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FILE PHOTO: A sign reading 'Protect our jobs' is affixed to an electricity pole on the road leading to U.S. President Donald Trump's Doonbeg Golf club which is visible in the distance, ahead of his visit to Doonbeg

DUBLIN (Reuters) - The number of people in Ireland claiming temporary coronavirus-related jobless benefits rose by just 0.5% this week, data showed on Monday, the slowest pace since the introduction of strict COVID-19 curbs that are set to be eased from next week.

Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) claims rose to 352,078, from 350,072 a week ago, meaning the limiting of restaurants to takeaway-only and closing of non-essential retail from Oct. 21 has added 107,000 new recipients, far fewer so far than the 150,000 estimated by the government when it introduced the new restrictions.

Non-essential retailers look set to reopen next week and restaurants are pushing to be permitted to resume indoor dining. PUP claims hit a low of 206,000 when most restaurants and pubs were open at the start of October, cutting the unemployment rate to 15.9% before it rose back above 20%.

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Alex Richardson)