Hospitality sales fall in Northern Ireland as Covid passports enforced

14 December 2021 by
Hospitality sales fall in Northern Ireland as Covid passports enforced

Hospitality businesses in Northern Ireland have been hit with cancellations and a drop in trade since the announcement that Covid passports would be required for entry into licensed premises.

The mandatory ‘proof of Covid status' scheme was announced last month with a two-week grace period to allow venues to adjust, but became legally enforceable yesterday (13 December).

Businesses which fail to enforce the scheme could face fines of up to £10,000.

A survey by Hospitality Ulster found that almost all respondents (93%-95%) said sales were down during the week commencing 29 November.

During that week, 21% said beverage sales had contracted by more than 50%; 26% said food sales were down more than 50%; and 54% said accommodation sales had contracted by more than 50% compared to the same week in 2019.

Legislation initially encouraged businesses to check guests' Covid status "as soon as reasonably possible", but this changed to "at point of entry" at the last minute.

Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, warned this would be unworkable for businesses that operate a counter service model, or that had several entrances.

"Most businesses do not have door staff and cannot afford to employ them even if they could find them," he said.

Neill added: "Even though penalties for the scheme kicks in from today, we are still yet to see the economic impact assessment which has led to this decision. Where is the package of financial support? Is the hospitality sector being forced to carry the can for this Executive decision?"

"The Executive and the wider Assembly need to understand that repeated additional Covid measures are costing businesses in the hospitality sector and we are at breaking point. This coupled with a highly confusing message from government is destroying our industry."

Image: Aleksandar Karanov /

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