HU UPDATE LAST CALL FOR GRANT APPLICATIONS REOPENING MUST BE BASED ON SAFETY

HU UPDATE LAST CALL FOR GRANT APPLICATIONS REOPENING MUST BE BASED ON SAFETY

20 May 2020

TIME! LAST CALL FOR GRANT APPLICATIONS

TODAY (Wed 20 May) is the last day for £10k and £25k grant applications in NI, and even if you have submitted your application we would urge you to double check that all of your details are correct.

Just this morning, an incorrect company number almost cost an HU member £25k as their grant application was disqualified- they were unaware until HU caught it and intervened.

Don't miss out!

 

REOPENING MUST BE BASED ON SAFETY

 

HU CEO Colin Neill writing in the Irish News 19/05/20

 

Standing side by side in a crowded pub with mates, or diners sitting together in a busy restaurant, is what many people picture when we talk about our hospitality industry.

 

And it’s probably for the reason that pubs and restaurants are in phase five of the Stormont Executive’s reopening plans.

 

But people shouldn’t rush to write off our pubs, bars and restaurants, basing decisions on memory or a presumption that they can’t provide a safe place to work and socialise.

 

Yes, there will be challenges, and some businesses will be unable to adapt to provide social distancing in their premises.

 

But with support from government and innovative thinking from businesses and local authorities, many could reopen and at least be sustainable until restrictions are reduced.

 

Before Covid-19 the Northern Ireland hospitality industry had an annual turnover of £2 billion and sustained 65,000 jobs, but today it faces a loss of 15,800 jobs and £1.1bn in turnover- and that’s if we get back to some sort of trading this year.

 

And whilst the furlough scheme has preserved many of the jobs within our industry, they will only be saved when businesses can get back up and running.

 

The industry also plays a much wider role than its economic footprint, with around 60 per cent of tourism spending their money on hospitality and some 33 per cent of Northern Ireland agri-food output dependant on hospitality businesses to sell their produce.

 

Not to mention the vital role it plays in both our social and community lives, addressing loneliness and providing a space for communities to meet.

 

Obviously, the safety of staff and customers must come first, but government must work with the industry to save as many jobs as possible.

 

With work already under way to develop new health and safety procedures and checks, the industry can reopen safely and sooner than some may think.

 

The industry has already begun working with HSE and Solace to develop measures to protect both our staff and customers.

 

Before this pandemic we had ‘crowded by design’ as one of our business models, but post Covid-19 that will be replaced by ‘safer by design’.

 

If we can prove businesses are safe under new covid-19 health and safety policies, then we are hopeful that we can have the industry moved up in the phases, allowing us to reopen when the ‘R’ number is at the appropriate level.

 

The hospitality industry as we knew it has been but on ice, and post lockdown it will be operating under social distancing measures for the foreseeable future.

 

But Northern Ireland has a history of inventions and innovation.

 

It is now time to innovate and recreate how we deliver our world famous hospitality; taking hospitality outdoors, reinventing how we use public spaces, pavements, outdoor spaces, parks, covered markets and even the floor of a multi storey car park could be part of the solution!

 

65,000 jobs equals 65,000 people with families and homes to support, and I believe we have a moral duty to find a way to save as many of their jobs as possible.