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Coronavirus: NHS worker's dismay over reopening of takeaways in Northern Ireland


Burgers are back on the menu in some areas here as several takeaways reopen

Burgers are back on the menu in some areas here as several takeaways reopen

Burgers are back on the menu in some areas here as several takeaways reopen

An angry NHS worker yesterday hit out as some hot food bars moved to reopen their doors to customers.

The healthcare worker, who asked not to be named, contacted the Belfast Telegraph to complain that hot food bars in her local area had reopened despite the anti-coronavirus lockdown.

"I find it incredible that, despite what the PSNI are saying about what constitutes an essential journey, hot food bars have decided to reopen after being closed for all this length of time.

"From my point of view, working in the NHS, it's perfectly clear - it's not a necessity. Going to the chip shop is not an essential trip."

She said she and her colleagues could hardly believe that these outlets had decided to re-open.

"I don't see that a chip shop is an essential service," she added.

"Considering a trip to the chippie as an essential service literally laughs in the face of everything we're trying to do."

The front line healthcare worker said the hot food bars also acted as a meeting place for teenagers, and the reopenings would make it more difficult for parents to keep their children in lockdown.

"It will be harder for parents now to tell their teenagers that there's nowhere for them to go or to meet up," she argued.

"These are known places of congregation for young people that are now opening up again."

She named two hot food bars - Captain Cooks in Banbridge and Herron's Country Chicken in Portadown - as among businesses which had decided to raise the shutters.

Pierre Conlon, owner of Captain Cooks, defended his decision to reopen his outlet for takeaway only, saying he had received clearance from the local council to do so.

The restaurant, which is located directly opposite Banbridge PSNI station, is implementing social distancing regulations, and is only providing pre-ordered takeaway food for collection or delivery.

"This was a carefully considered decision," Mr Conlon insisted.

He said he was "shocked" that someone had complained.

"We want to reopen in order to serve customers who rely on us, and so far the response from customers has been very positive, very well received," he said.

Keith Ogle of Herron's Country Chicken said his business was a carryout, and was classed as essential.

"We're testing the waters with reduced hours over this weekend. Business has been steady," he said.

"Most people are phoning in their orders."

Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, said that hot food bars were classed as food retailers and were permitted to open provided they put in place effective social distancing measures.

Belfast Telegraph