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Coronavirus: Northern Ireland pubs groups call for timetable for reopening the economy

Mark Beirne

A Belfast pub group has called on the Executive to provide dates for reopening the economy.

Clover Group has 180 staff across six bars, including White's Tavern and Margot's,

And while it welcomed the Executive's five-step roadmap out of lockdown, published on Tuesday, it said a fixed timescale was needed to help it plan ahead.

The group is led by publicans Mark Beirne, Jim Conlon, Paul Langsford and Andrew Maxwell.

Mr Beirne said: "We fully understand the need for, and welcome, the commitments given by the Northern Ireland Executive to put public health at the top of its agenda and our approach to reopening will strictly adhere to social distancing guidance.

"We know that customers will want and expect a new and different experience in our venues, as society adapts to the changes created by Covid-19.

"We have developed plans that have sought to deliver this in a way that is experiential for our customers, innovatively looking at how we can use our internal and external space across our footprint of bars throughout the city."

Mr Beirne said it was key to have a timetable so that the industry could begin to prepare for a post-virus world.

He added: "To further develop our plans it is key that we have a gauge of timelines, when that is possible, to prepare and train our staff, ensure we can deliver on the required logistics both internally and externally, have our supply chains and funding in place, with all of this being dependent on the seasonal time of year that the sector is in a position to reopen.

"We recognise the unprecedented challenges that our policy makers face as they seek to balance the public health and the worsening economic fallout.

"It is for this reason that we are calling on the Executive to provide a guideline to timing of the five stage plan, albeit subject to change, which will help preparations, manage staffing expectations and costs."

Belfast Telegraph