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Coronavirus: Donaldson urges chancellor to 'put money in pockets' as more Northern Ireland firms lay off staff

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Jeffrey Donaldson

Jeffrey Donaldson

The Yellow Door Deli on Lisburn Road will remain open for takeaway only. Picture: Google Maps

The Yellow Door Deli on Lisburn Road will remain open for takeaway only. Picture: Google Maps

Jeffrey Donaldson

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has urged the chancellor to "put money in people's pockets" as more jobs were lost in the Northern Ireland hospitality sector.

The Yellow Door Deli said it would close its Belfast and Portadown cafes with 29 staff temporarily laid off.

Managing partner and chef Barry Smyth said they “held on as long as possible”.

He said: “Our business has been devastated this week but I think our staff understand the situation.

“We will bounce back, it will be slow and gradual though.”

Mr Smyth said a lack of direction had been frustrating for the sector.

He added: “When you look at the magnitude of the crisis it’s important we are all selfless in the coming weeks to help others when it is needed.

“Hopefully when we go back to rebuilding our industry the help will be there.”

Mexican restaurant chain Boojum announced it was to temporarily lay off 90 workers in Belfast.

Managing director David Maxwell explained that buisiness dropped 80% in 10 days.

“It is an unprecedented crisis not just for Boojum but the entire hospitality industry.

“All operators are literally on their knees right now.”

DUP westminster leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson met with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday to discuss the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

He said any rescue package would have to put “money in people’s pockets” and urged businesses to wait and see what was on offer before acting.

“This is a once in a century challenge,” he said.

“We are working collectively to help everyone affected.”

There has already been widespread redundancies across Northern Ireland across a wide range of sectors.

Businesses hit by the outbreak in Northern Ireland are to receive £370million assistance, from Stormont.

That will include a grant scheme worth £10,000 each for around 27,000 small businesses and a payment of £25,000 to around 4,000 firms involved in retail, tourism and hospitality.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to announce an employment and wage subsidy package in an effort to protect millions of jobs.

Trade union Unite warned thousands faced the prospect of losing their jobs.

Unite hospitality organiser, Neil Moore, called on Stormont ministers to step to help workers.

“The thousands of hospitality workers who have already lost their jobs or been laid off in companies like Beannchor are likely to be joined by thousands more in the coming days,” he said.

“The consequences of unpaid lay-offs are particularly brutal for student workers who can’t claim any benefits.

“While over a third of the sector, employed on zero hour contracts, face difficulty claiming benefits and are likely to get only a small fraction of the meagre £29 a day statutory guarantee payment - which itself only lasts for five days.

“At a time of serious concerns around the spread of the coronavirus, young workers are being failed by the inaction of the political leaders. They face being thrown into destitution as the hospitality sector collapses in a near free-for-all in the face of the coronavirus downturn.”

Belfast Telegraph