‘No more waiting’ – Hospitality Ulster calls for reopening

Northern Ireland’s hospitality industry is calling on the Executive to provide reopening dates and a plan of action as England reopens outdoor hospitality.

With the Executive due to meet on Thursday to discuss the relaxation of restrictions, hospitality business owners are seeking immediate clarity on when and how the hospitality industry will reopen here.

The industry is also calling on political leaders to engage with the industry ahead of any announcements to determine the restrictions and criteria that will be put in place when plans are developed to see if opening is actually a viable option.

Hospitality Ulster has said that significant progress needs to be made to get all of the sector reopened, not just some parts, with others potentially left behind.

Colin Neill, Chief Executive of Hospitality Ulster said: “We are on the outside looking in as the rest of the UK are either opening today or on the road to reopening with dates and timelines for hospitality. It is time for the Executive to follow the lead of their counterparts across the UK, get the Economy moving, and provide our industry with dates and criteria for a financially sustainable reopening, when it meets on Thursday.”

“Our sector, pre-pandemic, contributed £2bn a year to the economy and is the fourth largest private sector employer in Northern Ireland. The past year has seen it completely dismantled with no business, no income, but bills and overheads continuing. There is no question that this has been the toughest time for many in our sector who are rightly watching on as their colleagues in other parts are getting back to business. We simply cannot wait and hope any longer. Decisions are now essential.”

“Reopening will not happen overnight. Businesses need time to prepare, bring in stock, and set parameters to ensure what restrictions will be in place for hospitality so businesses can assess the viability of reopening. The majority of premises do not have outdoor space for customers meaning reopening outdoor only will have limited impact. The Executive need to engage with us to consider options.”

“Infection rates remain low and the vaccination roll-out has been a brilliant success with the one millionth dose administered at the weekend. Therefore, what is the delay? The Executive cannot miss this opportunity to reopen the Economy and get life moving again. Any further delay will harm businesses, jobs and livelihoods and decimate our sector even more.”

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