16 November 2021


Hospitality Ulster says the majority of the hospitality industry cannot support mandatory Covid Passports as they are once again singled out in the government’s effort to fight Covid.


The message comes as the latest snapshot survey of Hospitality Ulster members show that 72% say they don’t support the proposed imposition of Covid Passports, as it would inflict further damage to an industry that is still on its knees with businesses fighting for survival.


The organisation says that if they are imposed they must be evidence based, targeted, time bound and come with support for impacted businesses. It has called on the Executive to provide details on the proposed Covid Passports and has strongly urged the Executive to publish their economic impact assessment.


Although government support to date has staved off the loss of thousands of businesses and tens of thousands of jobs, the next financial quarter will be the most challenging phase for businesses across the entire pandemic. With emergency rent and insolvency protection ending, Covid loans due for payment, and increases in VAT and rates on the agenda, the industry is at its most fragile point at any time during the crisis.


Colin Neill, Chief Executive, Hospitality Ulster said:


“Businesses in the industry are fighting for their very survival and cannot support additional measures that single them out and bring further damage to the sector.”


“The Covid Passport, and the reasons for it, has been talked about for some time, but we are yet to hear anything from the Executive around the financial and operational implications if it goes ahead, especially just before the critical Christmas trading period.”


“Many in the industry are worried that this will be imposed on the sector, just because it might feel like this is the right thing to do.”


“In theory, it all sounds simple, but it isn’t. Questions remain unanswered - what is a phased approach; what premises are included; what about unvaccinated staff; what about the impact on jobs and business viability?”


“The Scottish hospitality industry is reporting more than a 20% reduction in trade, increased costs, and considerable consumer aggression as they try to enforce Covid Passports. Where is the economic impact assessment for Covid Passports in Northern Ireland; where is the plan to support our hospitality businesses that will likely see footfall and viability impacted if they are imposed?”


“Obviously, the Executive has the power to impose Covid Passports, but it will be the hospitality sector who will be left to carry the financial and operational burden. It would appear, that little or no consideration has been given to the business owners and staff who will be left to enforce the scheme.”


“The Executive now needs to show us the evidence; show us the economic impact assessment; show us the support package for businesses and address the fears of hospitality business owners before they impose Covid Passports.”