Northern Ireland’s economy has “almost shut down” due to the coronavirus, a Stormont oversight committee has heard.
Economy minister Diane Dodds told MLAs it is “very hard to overstate” the damage the pandemic has done across the board to individuals and families but also the economy.
“Right now our economy is temporarily almost shut down,” she said.
“That economic pain of course will be found most in the wages and salaries of thousands of workers across Northern Ireland.”
Mrs Dodds said there have been 2,700 applications for a £25,000 grant scheme aimed at tourism, leisure, hospitality and retail, and that 17,000 applications for a £10,000 grant scheme have been paid out with a further 1,400 issued on Tuesday for processing.
She said the tourism industry has “suffered enormously”, and while noting health minister Robin Swann’s assessment that it is too soon to ease lockdown restrictions, Mrs Dodds said a plan for recovery is needed.
“We need a plan and we need to be working on the plan and I will be working with the representatives of industry, of the tourism industry to ensure that we have a plan going forward,” she said.
A new steering group around the recovery of the tourism industry is set to meet for the first time next week.