HU CEO REACTS TO NI EXEC PATHWAY OUT OF RESTRICTIONS DOCUMENT
02 March 2021
Reacting to ‘Moving Forward: The Executive’s Pathway Out Of Restrictions’ document published this afternoon by the NI Executive, Colin Neill Chief Executive, Hospitality Ulster said:
“We welcome the activity undertaken by the Executive so far in bringing forward this roadmap. However, it has been some time in coming and disappointing to see that parts of hospitality have been earmarked to reopen after non-essential retail and with no mention of an additional support package. There is a genuine fear amongst many in our sector that businesses are going to fail and jobs will be lost at the eleventh hour.”
“We are really frustrated that this pathway shows no dates whatsoever and once again singles out our traditional (wet) pubs for extended closure. How are our pubs supposed to survive, and the industry plan for the re-emergence of the entire sector?”
“The Office for National Statistics (ONS) latest data shows that two-thirds of businesses will be out of cash before the end of May. The Executive must now bring forward an additional package of financial support to keep these businesses alive until all hospitality businesses are allowed to reopen and trade at a financially sustainable level.”
“The Executive has made the decision to keep hospitality closed for longer than any other sector, without any engagement with the industry, despite our repeated calls to connect with us and start the planning process.”
“The Executive must now engage and allow the industry to prepare so that it is in the right shape and has any specification requirements in place so that the reopening phase can be as smooth as possible. We understand that there will need to be a gradual easing of restrictions and that this blueprint will be led by data. The progression to reopen and any restrictions should be wholly evidence based.”
“The hospitality sector has been effectively closed for the last year. There now needs to be recognition of the role that it has played and give those who have scrapped through a fighting chance. We acknowledge that the R rate must stay low for a sustained period of time, and we can reassure the Executive that the industry has created safe and sanitised environments in which people can go out and enjoy themselves again; enjoy a meal; and enjoy time with their family and friends.”
FROM THE NORTHERN IRELAND EXECUTIVE:
The Executive has outlined its pathway to a gradual easing of the current restrictions.
‘Moving Forward: The Executive’s Pathway Out Of Restrictions’ sets out a step-by-step approach to the relaxation of the current regulations.
The plan builds on medical and scientific advances over the last year, which together with the collective action of citizens, has resulted in a reduction in levels of infection across our community.
These advances include the expansion of the test, track and protect systems to target localised outbreaks and identify and respond rapidly to any new variants of concern; and the success of our vaccination programme, which has delivered a vaccine to more than 500,000 people since the beginning of December and is continuing to roll-out at speed across the adult population.
We have made significant progress and there is much to be hopeful for.
However, we are mindful that the Covid-19 pandemic can be highly unpredictable and the situation is complicated by the emergence of new variants, which can spread even more easily between people.
In moving forward, we must be cautious and measured. Our flexible framework outlines nine pathways each of which has five phases detailing the level of restrictions required.
The sequencing of progress through the phases will be based on evidence, the prevailing public health situation and an assessment of impacts for people, for society and for the economy.
This means that we may be in different phases across the nine pathways at any given time.
We have already begun our journey of gradual easements in some areas. The process of returning our young people to schools will begin with phase 1 on Monday March 8; and phase 2 on March 22. Subject to the levels of community transmission, the return of other pupils to school will begin immediately after the Easter holidays with the aim of all pupils returning to school as soon as possible.
Each step must be informed by the impact of the last relaxation on community transmission and the R number. That’s why we believe a careful approach, taking one small step at a time and reviewing the impacts, is the best and safest way to move forward. While we understand that people want certainty, we cannot be bound by dates that would only serve to give people false hope.
A rigorous monitor, review and implementation system has been developed to assess the impact of each phase of the relaxations and identify possible next actions.
Businesses will rightly want time to prepare for reopening when the time is right to do so. Engagement with relevant sectors will be a core element of our four-weekly reviews, which will help to support preparations for Covid-19 safe environments.
The first Comprehensive Formal Review will be held on 16 March and subsequent dates are 15 April, 13 May and 10 June.
These should not be viewed as dates on which we will move to lift certain restrictions; rather, they are appropriate dates that have been identified to examine all relevant indicators.
In line with the Executive’s guiding principles on the management of the pandemic all decision-making will be evidenced, proportionate, necessary and sustainable.