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Diane Dodds: Wedding reopening another step forward for NI economy

The industry is worth £250 million and the easing of coronavirus restrictions will be a major shot in the arm.

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Economy Minister Diane Dodds announced weddings in Northern Ireland can take place indoors in line with social distancing (Aaron McCracken/Economy Department/PA)

Economy Minister Diane Dodds announced weddings in Northern Ireland can take place indoors in line with social distancing (Aaron McCracken/Economy Department/PA)

Economy Minister Diane Dodds announced weddings in Northern Ireland can take place indoors in line with social distancing (Aaron McCracken/Economy Department/PA)

Opening hotels to weddings is another step forward for the local economy, Diane Dodds said.

The industry is worth £250 million and the easing of coronavirus restrictions on July 10 will be a major shot in the arm.

Publicans who primarily sell drink have redoubled calls for a reopening date for their sector following Monday’s Executive meeting at Stormont.

The economy minister said: “This is another step forward for Northern Ireland as we continue the economic recovery.

“I have been keen to facilitate the use of hotels for wedding ceremonies and receptions as soon as possible.

“Hotels and private venues will need to assure themselves that they have taken the appropriate steps to put precautions in place for the safety of staff and customers.”

At present, they are limited to outdoors settings, with no more than 30 people present.

Northern Ireland Hotels Federation (NIHF) CEO Janice Gault said last year there were 7,255 weddings and civil partnerships, with an average value in excess of £30,000 per event.

She added: “This is a significant revenue generator for the hotel sector which stages both ceremonies and receptions.

“Wedding business is estimated to be worth in the region of £250 million to the local economy with events spread across hotels, dedicated wedding venues and other hospitality businesses.

“The hotel sector is therefore looking forward to being able to say ‘I do’ to the many couples who wish to get married, and to welcoming back guests for other events in the coming months.”

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Pub trade representatives Hospitality Ulster’s Colin Neill expressed ‘deep frustration’ at the Northern Ireland Executive’s failure to provide a date for the reopening of drink only pubs (Peter Morrison/PA)

Pub trade representatives Hospitality Ulster’s Colin Neill expressed ‘deep frustration’ at the Northern Ireland Executive’s failure to provide a date for the reopening of drink only pubs (Peter Morrison/PA)

PA

Pub trade representatives Hospitality Ulster’s Colin Neill expressed ‘deep frustration’ at the Northern Ireland Executive’s failure to provide a date for the reopening of drink only pubs (Peter Morrison/PA)

Pub trade representatives Hospitality Ulster expressed “deep frustration” at the Northern Ireland Executive’s failure to provide a date for the reopening of drink only pubs and called on it to provide essential financial assistance.

Restaurants, hotels and beer gardens opened on July 3.

Chief executive Colin Neill said: “This weekend past, our restaurants, hotels and beer gardens were reopened in a safe and controlled manner – there is absolutely no reason why our pubs which serve pints cannot do the same.

“If the Northern Ireland Executive is concerned that some may ignore social distancing, then they should give the date with strong enforcement powers attached.

“It is simply unfair to keep them all closed, rather than close individual premises that ignore the safety procedures.”

PA