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Irish weekly COVID-19 jobless claims fall slightly

DUBLIN, Sept 21 (Reuters) - The number of people claiming temporary Irish COVID-19 related jobless benefits fell by just under 2% to 206,341 in the last week, data from the employment affairs department showed on Monday.

Claims have more than halved since hitting a lockdown peak of 600,000 in early May but the unemployment rate stood at 15.4% at the end of August as a further 225,000 people were in receipt of regular jobless benefits. Another 360,000 employees are on a separate wage-subsidy scheme.

With pubs that just serve drinks permitted to open for the first time since March on Monday in all counties but Dublin, more people are set to return to work this week. However indoor dining in pubs and restaurants has been banned for the next three weeks in the capital, likely triggering temporary layoffs. (Reporting by Padraic Halpin Editing by Chris Reese)