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UPDATE 1-Irish weekly COVID-19 jobless claims rise for first time since May

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DUBLIN, Sept 28 (Reuters) - The number of people claiming temporary Irish jobless benefits related to COVID-19 rose for the first time since May, weekly data showed on Monday, reflecting the three-week closure of indoor dining in pubs and restaurants in Dublin.

While claims have more than halved since hitting a lockdown peak of 600,000 in early May, the rate of decline had slowed in recent weeks and the numbers rose to 217,142 from 206,341 in the last seven days.

Over 19,000 people applied for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment after a reimposition of restrictions in the capital and most populous county. However, another 8,690 closed their claim after pubs that just serve drinks were permitted to open for the first time since March in all counties but Dublin last week.

Ireland’s 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 were on a separate wage-subsidy scheme at the end of August.

The government last week imposed the tightened restrictions in a second of Ireland’s 26 counties, the northwestern region of Donegal. Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn highlighted concerns over six more counties on Monday, including fast rises in Galway and Cork, two of the other most populous areas.

Ireland reported a further increase in its infection rate to 88 cases per 100,000 people, the 15th highest of the 31 countries monitored by the European Centre for Disease Control. (Graphic: tmsnrt.rs/3jd7ywG)

Cases are also increasing sharply in Northern Ireland, which shares an open border with Ireland. The British-run region has twice reported a record number of daily cases over the last four days.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Lisa Shumaker

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