Empty pubs and restaurants in Northern Ireland have been offered to help “get the jab done” as part of the Covid-19 vaccination roll out.
In a statement, Hospitality Ulster said the sector is “ready, willing and able” to help the local health service with the use of closed hospitality premises.
The organisation has written to Health Minister Robin Swann to say that with lockdown in place pubs, restaurants and hotels are ideally placed to provide community-based venues as vaccination centres.
As refrigeration and extensive Covid secure measures are already in place, it’s hoped the offer could relieve pressure on GP surgeries and other clinical settings.
Chief Executive Colin Neill said: “The hospitality sector has had an awful 10 months, but we still want to make sure that we can play our part in helping the roll out of the vaccination programme.
“Throughout the crisis, the hospitality industry has done everything asked of it and more to provide a Covid secure environment for our staff and customers. Businesses in the sector have spent thousands upon thousands of pounds setting up structures and systems to protect staff and customers which ironically could now be ideal for the management and flow of people ensuring that they are safe as they get the jab.”
He said offering up hospitality venues is the right thing to do at a time of “extreme need”.
“They are sitting vacant with extensive refrigeration facilities for the vaccine and with further pressures expected to be heaped upon the health service they could serve a great community purpose," Mr Neill said.
“We have written to the Health Minister Robin Swann and his team our offer of help and will provide every assistance possible if he takes us up.”