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Northern Ireland to enter six-week lockdown from Boxing Day

18 December 2020 by
Northern Ireland to enter six-week lockdown from Boxing Day

Northern Ireland hospitality venues will have to close from one minute past midnight on 26 December for a six-week lockdown.

Hospitality businesses will only be allowed to offer takeaway and delivery food during this time and non-essential retail will also close.

The restrictions will be in place for six weeks, subject to review at four weeks.

Health minister Robin Swann said: "We have introduced these measures with a heavy heart, very mindful of the impact the last year has had on lives and livelihoods.

"The evidence before us was clear that decisive intervention was required to prevent the growing tide of Covid-19 cases overwhelming our health service, with catastrophic consequences.

"Many parts of Europe have introduced significant restrictions for the same reason."

Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, said: "Unfortunately this will sound the death knell for so many who will simply not be able to see through this enforced period. They won't come out the other side and we are left counting the cost of an industry in tatters. The impact on the economy will run into the hundreds of millions, thousands of redundancies and a sector dead on its feet.

"The sector now needs urgent financial assistance at the right level to offset previous debts rung up in the race to be Covid-secure and make sure that it is covered during this lockdown which will take weeks, if not months, to see out…

"The hospitality industry can no longer withstand repeated closure and reopening under unsustainable restrictions and should be given additional support to cover furlough costs, rents etc. and only reopened when it's permanent and financially sustainable."

The news follows the announcement that hospitality premises in Wales will have to close from 6pm on Christmas Day ahead of the country moving into a stay-at-home lockdown on 28 December for at least three weeks.

Photo: Shutterstock

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