HU URGES EXEC TO CUT 2M GUIDANCE AND SECURE DATE FOR OPENING OF ALL HOSPITALITY BUSINESSES

HU URGES EXEC TO CUT 2M GUIDANCE AND SECURE DATE FOR OPENING OF ALL HOSPITALITY BUSINESSES

25 June 2020

Ahead of the latest Northern Ireland Executive meeting today (Thursday 25 June), Colin Neill, Chief Executive of Hospitality Ulster has encouraged Ministers to strongly consider the reduction in social distancing rules form 2m to 1m after the decision by the Prime Minister earlier this week to ease restrictions in England:

 

“We are strongly urging Ministers around the Executive table to make the right collective decision and reduce the social distancing guidance from 2m to 1m as a matter of urgency and do so before the 3rd July date for reopening, for the benefit of the wider economy and the hospitality sector in particular.”

 

“As a sector, we are taking all necessary health and safety precautions to protect our staff and customers, with businesses likely to spend, on average, £10,000 per premises in Covid secure measures. It is vital that they do not find themselves in a position that they have to change those measures at further additional cost in a few weeks as they are already under severe financial pressure.”

 

“The vast majority of hospitality businesses in Northern Ireland are small businesses, with the owner and often family members on the frontline serving customers. It is not in our interest to do anything that would increase the spread of this virus. That is why the industry has developed one of the most extensive sets of guidance and risk assessment procedures to ensure we do all we can to reduce the spread of this virus.”

 

“This is not a decision between safe and unsafe, or about businesses making a profit. Deciding on a 2m v 1m distance is about safe and safer, balanced against the backdrop of jobs losses and business closures as they simply cannot open under the current 2m rule.”

 

Last week we surveyed our members about whether or not they would be able to open under the current 2m system and we were shocked but not surprised to see that over half of non-food pubs who are limited to outdoor service; nearly 60% of restaurants; and a quarter of Pubs serving food, stating they could not reopening under the 2m rule. They would only be opening to see a slow demise of their business that may have taken them decades to build. The unfortunate outcome to this will be redundancies and closures.”

 

“Even under a 1m regime as outlined by the Prime Minister, we are aware that some businesses in the hospitality sector just will not be able to open as it won’t be commercially viable to do so. But, we must give the sector a fighting chance by reducing social distancing to 1m and secure a date for the reopening of all hospitality businesses, including non-food pubs in the same way that our counterparts in the Republic of Ireland and England have, as we move headlong into the summer months.”