24 July 2020




“With a date secured to reopen wet-sales indoors, another major piece of the jigsaw has been achieved. Continued work with the NI Executive is ongoing to secure the reopening of other parts of our industry, like nightclubs.


“Throughout this crisis Hospitality Ulster has and continues to provide a strong and responsible voice for our industry and your businesses- making the case for financial support, and that we can provide a safe environment for our staff and customers.


“It is now up to each and every one of us to deliver, as responsibility now rests firmly with the individual premises to ensure that all government guidance is adhered to.


“Hospitality Ulster has given all of us a lifeline, but it cannot defend the indefensible. If we mess this up, we have only ourselves to blame.”





The NI Executive has also agreed an indicative date of 10th August for the reopening of indoor pubs and bars selling only drink ("wet pubs"). This relaxation will be ratified in advance of the indicative date depending on the prevailing COVID-19 situation at that time.


This will also apply to food-led pubs, allowing them to sell alcohol without a meal from the 10th August, subject to ratification as above.


It is vital that every pub, restaurant and hotel strictly adheres to all government guidance, as any increase in COVID related to any hospitality businesses could result in the reopening of wet sales indoors being delayed, or the reclosure of all premises.


This virus will be with us for a very long time, and will require continued vigilance across the industry!





The wearing of face coverings in Northern Ireland is highly encouraged in enclosed spaces where it is not possible to social distance. The NI Executive is running a publicity campaign to encourage people to wear face coverings. If this does not have the desired effect of around 80% people wearing face coverings the Executive may mandate wearing of face coverings from 20th August.


Food and beverage premises offering table service are exempt, this includes restaurants and pubs.


However, individual risk assessments by hospitality businesses will determine if staff and customers should wear face coverings and visors. Premises should also consider the benefits of staff wearing face coverings or visors as a visible reassurance measure to customers.





The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Furlough Scheme) (CLICK HERE) guidance has been updated to clarify that notice periods being served by furloughed employees include contractual notice periods.





Despite best efforts, it is regrettably a fact of this crisis that many businesses will have no choice but to make some staff redundant. This is obviously a very difficult situation for both employee and employer. It is also a very complex issue and professional guidance is essential.


To help advise members, we have recorded a Q&A session with John McShane and Judy Hamilton, employment law specialists with Hospitality Ulster legal partner MTB Solicitors.


This Q&A session also provides an update on the CJRS (Furlough Scheme)


HU members can watch the video by CLICKING HERE


If you cannot remember your membership password, please email





Guidance on the reduced VAT rate for tourism and hospitality has been updated to cover catering companies using retail schemes (CLICK HERE).


HMRC has set up a new helpline for queries about the reduced rate of VAT.


TEL: 0300 200 3700






The guidance for businesses (CLICK HERE) signing up with 'Eat Out to Help Out' has been updated to include a range of worked examples related to how the discount is the be applied in different situations including VAT treatment.


These include:


  • A group of four diners spend £60, including £10 on alcohol and 10% service charge
  • A group of 4 diners spend £50 including £8 on alcohol and there is no service charge
  • A single person spends £4 and no alcohol is purchased


We are also working with Government to understand how the scheme can be applied and VAT manually reconciled to avoid systems reprogramming.


The Government has confirmed that SME businesses which operate under the Flat Rate VAT scheme (CLICK HERE) will also benefit from the VAT cut, with the flat rate for accommodation dropping to zero, pubs to 1% and catering and restaurants to 4.5%