The group also said it is extremely exercised about the short-notice of the announcement of fresh restrictions on Tuesday.

It has called for workers affected by the latest measures to be allowed sign back on to the PUP if needed.

“We completely appreciate that with case numbers rising as fast as they are, and with patient numbers in critical care increasing at an unsustainable rate, Government must act,” chief executive Neil McDonnell wrote.

“However, we note with concern the apparent absence of a strategy to contain this virus months after successful exemplars are available to us from elsewhere,” he added.

Rather than knee-jerk responses to attempt some form of lockdown, the organisation has called on the Government to consider measures that will manage the pandemic.

These include re-examining the issue of employers’ inability to ascertain whether staff are vaccinated or not, which leaves them “in limbo”.

ISME also wants adequate surge capacity in critical care beds, which it says is “one of the few areas in which our health system has underperformed peer countries for a long time.”

The association also claims that because of the early success of the vaccination programme, it should have been obvious that we would need an effective booster program earlier than peer countries.

The “persistent and unscientific resistance of NPHET members to antigen testing” is also criticised by the body, which highlights how the report of the Covid-19 Rapid Testing Group indicated last April that antigen testing has a role to play, but it must be available at scale, and at low cost.

This problem, it states, cannot be ignored any longer.

ISME also claims “arbitrary” control measures such as the closure of night venues at midnight are difficult to justify on the basis of logic and undermine the Government messaging.

The organisation says the Government must now exercise robust command, control and communications in its management of the pandemic, which it claims has been absent.

“The timing of NPHET meetings is demonstrably more important for the media that that of cabinet meetings,” Mr McDonnell wrote.

“Between the former and the latter, members of the business community are forced to scrutinise the Twitter feeds of political correspondents to glean what the public health response will be,” he said.

“This is utterly demoralising, confidence-sapping and completely unacceptable,” he added.