HU CALLS ON NI EXEC FOR CLARITY ON 11TH DECEMBER REOPENING DATE FOR ENTIRE HOSPITALITY SECTOR
25 November 2020
Hospitality Ulster has called on the NI Executive to give the hospitality sector in Northern Ireland definitive clarity about reopening on the 11th December or to make an early decision if it decides to continue with the closure of the sector.
The plea has been made after one of the Sage scientists, Prof Lucy Yardley told the BBC that homes are riskier than pubs for the spread of Covid-19, stating that “pubs are actually better ventilated and have more regular cleaning every hour going on than we do in our own homes”.
Hospitality Ulster is calling on the NI Executive to take this scientific viewpoint on board and ultimately ensure that clarity is provided to businesses in a timely manner so that they can plan regardless.
Colin Neill, Chief Executive, Hospitality Ulster said:
“It is essential that we get all of the hospitality sector open on 11th December, including our wet, traditional pubs. The current financial support does not recognise that hospitality has been closed longer and when open operates under more severe restrictions than any other business sector.”
“This is an extremely important part of the year for a number of reasons, but even more so this year as business owners fight to save jobs and their businesses and reduce their crippling losses in the very short pre-Christmas trading period if it comes. The hospitality sector has suffered immensely this year and the opportunity to be open and doing what they do best over Christmas would bring both a much needed morale boost and ease some of the financial pressures.”
“Hospitality businesses do not want to be reliant on financial support and would much rather be allowed to reopen safely without unnecessary restrictions in a way that allows them to provide for their families and staff. Analysis by Professor Lucy Yardley, a member of Sage which stated that pubs are a safer environment than private homes should be considered by the NI Executive closely in the coming days.”
“It is also disappointing that hospitality was not included in the Christmas plans agreed by the UK Government and the devolved regions and I would appeal to the NI Executive to reconsider the restrictions on hospitality over the Christmas period. If hospitality is reopened and cannot benefit from the increased bubble limit and have the curfew removed, some businesses won’t even be able to reopen and they must be given an option to remain closed and qualify for financial support.”
“However, if the Executive decides to make the unfortunate call to continue with the lockdown over Christmas period they must make this decision now instead of the eleventh hour. We’ve been in situations in the last few months when decisions have been made way too late which causes huge confusion and additional financial losses within the sector. This simply cannot happen again.”
“On a daily basis we are hearing story after story about just how hard those in the sector are getting it – they are being told to close and then left fighting to be reopened as the grants simply do not cover their losses.”
“Christmas should be a time of hope and we are in the process of writing to the First and Deputy First Minister to make sure that they give us the clarity and hope that we are seeking.”