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Northern Ireland pause on pub reopening a ‘catastrophic blow'

07 August 2020 by
Northern Ireland pause on pub reopening a ‘catastrophic blow'

Northern Ireland has paused plans to reopen its wet-led pubs on Monday 10 August in what has been described as a "catastrophic blow" for the sector.

Pubs in Northern Ireland are now set to remain closed until 1 September at the earliest. However, trade body Hospitality Ulster has said that without a financial rescue package for staff and owners there will be mass redundancies and closures.

Hotels, restaurants, and pubs serving food in Northern Ireland were able to reopen on 3 July, but non-food pubs have remained closed.

Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, called for an "immediate and swift response" to save jobs and businesses.

He said: "The safety measures agreed by government and implemented by our members will help to reduce the spread of the virus, not the pie and chips you are currently required to have with your pint. Non-food pubs can operate under the same safety measures as food-let premises."

He added: "It is now not difficult to imagine that thousands of people who work in, or own, traditional pubs will struggle to pay their mortgages and support their families as they are forced to be let go. Investment and aid right now by the Executive will mean that thousands in the sector stand a chance, otherwise the ripple effect will have huge consequences. We are talking thousands of job losses…

"The Executive support for our industry to date has already saved thousands of jobs, but to now leave our traditional pubs to wither on the vine would see much of that support wasted."

Speaking yesterday, first minister Arlene Foster said the decision was "not a reflection on the hospitality sector. Rather, it's a reflection on the fact that our R rate has risen".

She added: "We will be engaging with the hospitality sector. We will be wanting to listen to their concerns and try to find a way to support them at what is a very difficult time for them and we do acknowledge that."

Photo: Shutterstock

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