HU SAYS BANNING PUB OFF SALES AS PART OF CURRENT LOCKDOWN RESTRICTIONS RIDICULOUS AND UNFAIR
20 October 2020
Hospitality Ulster has come out angrily after it was clarified that as part of the NI Executive lockdown restrictions, pubs without a designated off-sales have also been forced to stop, despite them having the facility as part of their existing pub licence, whilst other pubs with a designated off-sales, standalone off-sales and supermarkets being able to sell alcohol.
The organisation has claimed that many local pubs who may have had an opportunity to keep one or two members of staff in a job servicing off saes from the pub have now been disadvantaged, even though others can open.
Hospitality Ulster has also stated that the closure of the hospitality sector and pub off-sales at 8pm has seen a huge spike in the number of illegal dial-a-drink operators with adverts popping up all over social media offering cheap deals that can be dropped off at the front door.
Colin Neill, Chief Executive, Hospitality Ulster reacted:
“We simply couldn’t believe it when we received the clarification in the lockdown restrictions that pubs without a designated off-sales would be required to close. This provided hope and a lifeline to some who were under the impression that they could keep, even a couple of staff, working and earning a wage during this awful period for the sector.”
“We need every opportunity to protect the business owners and their employees so that they can earn even a little bit of money to tie them over in the face of potential redundancy. Instead of creating some sort of level playing field people can just go to other off-licenses or supermarkets before a particular time and spend their money there. We need this section of the lockdown regulations reviewed straight away, as it doesn’t make sense and is completely unfair.”
“Also, if stopping off-sales at 8pm was aimed at stopping house parties, they have got that wrong as well, with legitimate off-sales up more that 50% within days of the announcement, not to mention the increase in illegal sales from the boot of a car.”
“You don’t have to look too hard to find the evidence of a significant increase in the number of people operating dial-a-drink services – effectively selling alcohol out of the boot of a car to anyone who calls up. This is doing nothing to discourage house parties and is promoting a dangerous game as people take the chance and flout bubbling rules. With the hospitality sector completely shut down, there is an unintended consequence staring everyone right in the face - that the consumption of cheap alcohol is now in people’s homes and having little impact on the curtailment of the virus.”
“It’s hard to stomach when those in the hospitality sector who have worked night and day to create a safe environment prior to being locked down see adverts on social media promoting these types of services to people who are clearly having house parties, whilst law-abiding people can’t buy a bottle wine or a few beers after 8pm and can’t get it from their local pub at all.”
“Many of those impacted are small ‘wet led’ pubs that have just been open for three weeks. It’s soul destroying for those who have had to lay staff off or are at risk of losing their businesses. The Executive Office cannot allow this to happen.”