Parents who send their children to private after-school activities are being asked to fork out extra money in swine flu "sanitisation" charges to cover the cost of protecting their children from the disease.
One Dublin-based provider of ballet lessons told the Sunday Tribune that she had introduced a €6 additional charge per term for pupils and their parents to each receive hand-sanitiser sprays before lessons begin.
Hilde Van Den Bergh, who runs the Balletfusion school, which offers ballet lessons to children in areas such as Sutton, Balbriggan and Dublin city centre, claimed she was not making any profit from the new charge, which is applied per child.
She said the charge was also necessary to cover other costs associated with combating swine flu among her pupils.
"I'm actually charging per person who attends the school; it's an extra €6 per term per person. But that doesn't cover the cost of labour – for example, the time it takes to wipe the surfaces down or having somebody there to make sure the children spray their hands after using the toilet," she said. "I will have an assistant standing at the door squirting parents and kids as they come in. One or two have refused but I don't stop them coming into the hall.
"That was what I was doing at our summer camps, and with 'back to school' starting, the children will be coming in their droves. All of the parents have been happy to pay the charge so far. It is not a big sum and it doesn't cover the costs in total. There is no question of me making a profit from this. You have to pay for extra rent on the hall sometimes also, if you go in half an hour early to wipe it down."
Meanwhile, a Galway taxi firm has taken out advertisements in local newspapers advising customers that its drivers are using anti swine flu sanitisers after each fare.
Gerry Corbett, chairman of Galway Taxis, said his firm had introduced the measure in an attempt to ease fears among potential customers that they might contract the disease from using public transport. The firm has a fleet of 130 vehicles and last week issued 150 of the one-litre bottles to drivers, at a cost to them of €5 each and €2.50 per refill.
"Each driver has their own sanitiser unit and they spray it after each fare and give a quick wipe of the car; for example, to the dashboard," he said. "Our main intention is to ensure people feel safe using public transport. The taxi business is tough enough, so anything we can do to help we will do.
"As far as I know we are the only taxi company in the country doing this, and the reaction from customers has been brilliant."