HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY IN ADVANCED PREPARATIONS FOR A SAFE REOPENING
10 June 2020
We are grateful for financial support by the NI Executive throughout this crisis and we understand the fine balance they must strike between saving lives and saving livelihoods.
That’s why in preparation for reopening, our hospitality industry has in place extensive measures to protect the safety of our staff and customers. We have and continue to work in partnership with government departments both in Northern Ireland and Westminster to understand what is required and what can be done to reopen hospitality businesses in a safe and sustainable manner.
It is in our best interest that the wellbeing and health of our staff and customers is prioritised - they are our most valuable assets. We are taking nothing for granted. With extensive guidance already developed and training of staff already underway, we are ensuring our industry takes every reasonable step to reduce the spread of the virus when we reopen. We have also learned lessons from home and overseas and have a wide range of behavioural, physical and technological solutions ready to go.
With the World Health Organisation citing that 1m social distancing can be effective, we welcome the discussion by the NI Executive into the possibility of the 2m rule being reduced. A measure that would directly save thousands of jobs. At 2m it is simply not achievable or viable in most of our hospitality businesses.
Even with a 1m social distancing rule, many businesses will still be unsustainable, and we are working with government to reimagine how our hospitality offer could work. We have been bringing forward innovate ideas about the use of outdoor spaces like pavements, parking bays and car parks to help businesses be financially sustainable as they reopen under distancing rules.
We are also mindful of our counterparts in southern Ireland and the competitive advantage that they already have, with a June reopening date and our July holiday season looming.
With progress being made to reduce the spread of the virus, we believe the headroom created could now be used to bring forward the reopening of our hospitality industry and reduce social distancing from 2m to 1m.
This move would save the livelihoods of thousands of people that work in our industry and the hundreds of businesses that make up our hospitality sector.
We know that balancing lives and livelihoods is a difficult task for the NI Executive, but we would ask them to look closely at the Covid-19 preventative measures we are taking and bring forward a date for the responsible reopening of our hospitality industry.
The level of commitment, engagement and financial support by our Ministers has been exceptional. With government and industry working together as we move forward, both lives and livelihoods can be protected.