Stormont sets out reopening plan for Northern Ireland hospitality as lockdown extended for further week

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Stormont sets out reopening plan for Northern Ireland hospitality as lockdown extended for further week

Related tags: Northern ireland, Restaurant, Pub, Coronavirus, lockdown

Northern Ireland's leaders have announced a one-week extension to the country's 'circuit-breaker' lockdown, with the hospitality industry allowed to begin partially reopening from next Friday.

Unlicensed businesses including cafes and coffee shops will be permitted to reopen from 20 November with an 8pm curfew in place, while pubs and bars will be permitted to sell sealed off-sales.

All other sections of the hospitality trade, including restaurants, pubs and bars, can reopen on 27 November.

It is yet to be confirmed if restaurants and pubs will still be subject to the 11pm curfew imposed upon them back in September once they do reopen. 

Responding to the announcement, Hospitality Ulster chief executive Colin Neill said: "We welcome that the Executive has come to a decision on the restrictions placed on the hospitality industry and close contact businesses.

"This brings to a conclusion a period of uncertainty and will hopefully result in thousands of jobs and businesses being saved.

"The Christmas period is vital for our hospitality businesses and while we know that this year will be a lot different, it will provide a critical, if not much reduced, income to help secure jobs and businesses."

A complete shutdown of the country's hospitality sector, apart from for deliveries and takeaways, was ordered last month​ following a spike of Coronavirus cases.

In its statement yesterday (12 November), the Northern Ireland Executive confirmed alongside the lockdown extension that additional financial support for affected businesses, including support for mitigations such as contract tracing, would be provided to businesses.

The devolved power has come under increasing criticism this week for failing to reach agreement over the lifting of restrictions and providing guidance to hospitality businesses in time for them to rehire staff and order stock.

Today (13 November) marks four weeks since the lockdown was imposed, with restrictions originally set to come to an end at midnight tonight.

Frustrated by the lack of information, the Dirty Onion pub in Belfast tweeted​ yesterday prior to the announcement: "Enough is enough. We are opening tomorrow (13 November).

"We've waited and waited for Stormont to make a decision on the opening of the hospitality sector. Our staff don't have the job luxuries afforded to our so-called politicians.

"The complete lack of leadership, communication and clarity means we will make the decision for them."

Related topics: Business & Legislation

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