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Hotels 'to reopen' in Northern Ireland next month


Hotels 'to reopen' in Northern Ireland next month

Hotels 'to reopen' in Northern Ireland next month

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Hotels 'to reopen' in Northern Ireland next month

Hotels in Northern Ireland will be allowed to open their doors next month as part of an easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions here.

The announcement will see guesthouses, guest accommodation, B&Bs, hotels and hostels able to open from July 20.

“Covid-19 has presented an unprecedented challenge for our tourism industry, as it has for tourism markets around the world," Economy Minister Diane Dodds said.

“I believe the time is right to provide the tourist accommodation sector with clarity about opening dates.

“I want to build upon the positive progress in managing the spread of the virus and begin to re-open our tourism industry in a safe and managed way.”

Janice Gault, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation, says it's "a step forward for the industry and the federation has been working closely with industry colleagues to ensure that businesses can open in a safe and secure manner".

"There is more work to be done around the details of opening,” she said.

“We will continue to work in a collaborative manner so that the visitor economy, including the hotel sector, can return to business and help restore the Northern Ireland economy.

“The safety of our staff and guests will be paramount in this process. Having an agreed date will help us to plan, promote and give businesses the opportunity to assess their viability”.

Ms Dodds said the "dates are conditional on the continued containment of the spread of Covid-19".

The Executive last week announced hotels could begin taking bookings this month, but did not specify a date when they could open.

There are still no indicative dates for the reopening of bars and restaurants here.

Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald, who chairs Stormont's economy committee, said: "The tourism and hospitality sector was one of the worst hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and many in the sector are seriously concerned about the future.

"Today's move by the Executive to allow hotels, hostels, caravan parks, guesthouses, bed and breakfasts and others to open from July 20, subject to scientific and medical advice, will be warmly welcomed.

"Tourism is key to our economy right across the island and today's move will help those working in the industry to get back to work safely.

"The safety of those working in the sector, as well as that of the wider public will be paramount in all of this.

“The reopening will depend on the rate of transmission so I am appealing to people to ensure this can go ahead as planned by continuing to follow social distancing guidelines. "

Bill Wolsey, managing director of Beannchor, which owns The Merchant and Bullitt hotels, said it's the "first glimmer of hope for the recovery of Northern Ireland’s hospitality industry".

"As we develop our re-opening plan, we will work in partnership with the Executive, health bodies and our peers across the tourism and hospitality sectors to ensure the safety and comfort of all staff and guests so that we open with the correct measures in place to protect all.

“There is a need for further clarification around hotel facilities; not just in enabling us and other hoteliers to provide as well-rounded a service to our guests as possible but also to begin to shape our staffing capacity and inject a much-needed boost to the local economy by reinstating as many jobs as we can.”

Ulster Business