Hospitality Ulster has welcomed the announcement by the NI Executive that ‘wet-led’ (non-food) pubs will be allowed to reopen in Northern Ireland from 10th August.
Despite the reopening of hotels, restaurants, food-pubs and beer gardens at the beginning of July, a date for the reopening of wet-led pubs was previously withheld causing great concern and financial hardship for many business owners.
The naming of a date has brought a sense of relief for many publicans, who will still find it tough to return to any form of profitability under the current social distancing guidelines.
Colin Neill, Chief Executive of Hospitality Ulster said: “Whilst we would have liked an earlier date, it is welcome news that our wet-led pubs finally have a date for reopening. These pubs are at the heart of our local communities and have experienced significant financial difficulties since closure in March. Confirmation of this reopening date will now allow these businesses to plan ahead and make sure they can get back to business in a safe way for both staff and customers alike.”
“We know that reopening will be just the first step in a very long journey back to normality. After months with no custom or income and a growing number of bills, the financial viability of many of these pubs is at risk and they will require ongoing support in the time ahead.”
“Many of these wet-led pubs are small, family owned businesses who will struggle to get around the negative impact of the pandemic, however, with a reopening date, they now have a fighting chance. We know that with the current social distancing guidance, it is going to be very difficult for these businesses to return to profitability, but at least they now have an opportunity to save livelihoods and their businesses.”
“The full reopening of our industry comes with responsibilities and we will support the full force of the law being brought against any premises that deliberately ignore the social distancing rules.”
“We will continue to engage with the Executive, asking them to introduce the power of closure for any rogue premises and to bring forward an earlier reopening date for wet-led pubs in that context.”