Northern Ireland To Close Hospitality Sector Four Weeks From Friday

The hospitality sector in Northern Ireland is to close of 4 weeks beginning Friday, October 16 in in a bid to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Yesterday the Stormont Executive confirmed pubs and restaurants would have to close, apart from deliveries and takeaways for food for four weeks.

Takeaways will also be brought in line with the rest of hospitality with an 11pm curfew.

The lockdown means that no events involving more than 15 people, except for certain outdoor sporting events, will be allowed, and funerals will be limited to 25 people with no pre- or post-funeral gatherings. Off licences and supermarkets will not be permitted to sell alcohol after 8pm.

Wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships are to be limited to 25 people with no receptions from Monday 19 October. Venues providing post-ceremony or partnership celebrations this weekend may remain open for this purpose but may not provide other services for people who are not part of the wedding or partnership parties, and these will be limited to 25 people.

First minister Arlene Foster said: “We are facing the tough reality of rapidly rising rates of infection. There are increasing numbers of people requiring acute care in our hospitals and sadly we learned yesterday of the death of seven people from Covid-19.

“The Executive has given careful and painstaking consideration of the right blend of actions that will do maximum damage to the virus but minimum harm to life chances today and tomorrow.

“We understand that these interventions will be hard but they will not be in place for a moment longer than they need to be. I would ask everyone to work with us to save lives and protect our health service.”

Colin Neill, Chief Executive of Hospitality Ulster, said tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of businesses were now in “free fall”.

“The hospitality sector has led the campaign to implement legally enforceable Covid regulations and has taken blow after blow financially as more and more restrictions have been put in place by the NI Executive,” he added.

“Let me be clear, now that this lockdown had been signed off, all costs of the sector need to be covered by the government to ensure our people have food on their tables and as many businesses as possible can be preserved.

“Unfortunately, it is clear that there will be total business failure for many and a whole host redundancies across the sector. Many businesses do not have the money to pay redundancies and will be forced into bankruptcy when faced with the bill.

“The Executive must serve to underwrite this decision and take on the financial responsibility for specifically shutting down the hospitality sector. We don’t want to see a financial gesture , but a significant payment made to all those in the sector that have had their means of making a living stripped away from them for the greater good.

“With hospitality on the front line of this crisis, we are also calling for the immediate establishment of a joint Government / Industry Covid response group led by the two Junior Ministers who have responsibility for the Covid regulations. We cannot take anymore Covid regulations without industry representation at the table.

“I cannot overstate the seriousness of this situation, tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of businesses are now in free fall.”