Ulster Business

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Pub and restaurant frustration growing as no opening date outlined by NI Executive

Colin Neill

Frustrations among pubs and restaurants are continuing to grow here amid concerns they are being kept “largely in the dark” over when they will be allowed to reopen.

Colin Neill of Hospitality Ulster says “we still have had nothing out of the NI Executive” as to when they can prepare to reopen their doors.

In the Republic, restaurants will be able to open at the end of this month. But no such date has been earmarked for businesses here.

“The industry is ready to get back to business in a safe and responsible way,” Mr Neill said.

"Livelihoods and jobs are at stake. Many are keen to seize the initiative and bring a creative approach in their fight for survival. With support from government and innovative thinking from businesses and local authorities, many could reopen and at least be sustainable until restrictions are reduced.”

“We still have had nothing out of the Executive, we are still largely in the dark, yet Ministers always talk about hospitality and tourism being one of the most important sectors here.”

It’s putting fresh pressure on the Executive this week on the need to allow for outdoor trading for pubs and restaurants after it failed to come to any decision on the re-opening of the sector at its most recent meeting on Monday.

It comes after it was announced that all shops will be able to reopen from Friday.

“The drive to adapt and ‘take it outside’ means that the concerns around social distancing are largely taken care of as people can spread out, and all and every health and safety precaution can be implemented,” Mr Neill said.

“We have so many vast unused open spaces at the minute as people largely remain at home, so we need our elected representatives and the Executive to get its act together and save the summer – one of the busiest trading periods of the year.”

“Many pubs and restaurant owners are looking at spaces they have at their disposal and close by their premises, creating parklets or bespoke outdoor seating areas such as those see in other European cities. We are so far behind in this despite the wealth the industry generates for the economy.”

“We still have had nothing out of the Executive, we are still largely in the dark, yet Ministers always talk about hospitality and tourism being one of the most important sectors here. We welcome the opening of retail stores, but the hospitality sector also plays a vital role in both our social and community lives, addressing loneliness and providing a space for communities to meet, especially at these difficult times.”

Ulster Business