'Hope on the horizon' as Northern Ireland Executive sets indicative dates for hospitality reopening

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

'Hope on the horizon' as Northern Ireland Executive sets indicative dates for hospitality reopening

Related tags: Northern ireland, Coronavirus, lockdown

The Northern Ireland Executive has confirmed that outdoor hospitality settings will finally be able to unlock later this month.

It has been agreed by the Executive that outdoor licensed and unlicensed premises like beer gardens, cafés, pubs and restaurants serving outside could reopen as soon as 30 April.

May 24 has been marked as the indicative date for the reopening of indoor hospitality settings, including hotels.

Social contact rules will remain in place, with customers able to gather in groups of six from no more than two households. However, pubs and restaurants will now longer be subject to a curfew, having previously forced to close at 11pm under Coronavirus restrictions.

There had initially been uproar from the country's hospitality sector when proposed dates leaked to the press suggested that outdoor hospitality wouldn't be able to reopen until 10 May.

The decision to bring the date forward to 30 April has been welcomed by industry trade body Hospitality Ulster.

“This movement by the Executive in bringing forward new dates which reflect the data is to be welcomed after the huge amount of anxiety was caused by the previous dates leaked to the media," says Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster. 

“There are still several weeks to go for outdoor to be opened and five weeks still to go for indoor hospitality, but we now have dates and a timescale to work with. Whilst these are indicative dates, especially for the reopening of indoor, it is hoped that the programme can be accelerated.”

“Hope is now on the horizon and for those who have been able to survive this devastating period it is now time for them to prepare their businesses for the long awaited resumption of trading. It is now in everyone’s interest that we make sure that all precautions are taken to get us through these next few weeks safely.”

“Our industry has spent millions of pounds on Covid secure measures and will reopen in a responsibly way, but any additional restrictions must allow businesses to operate on a sustainable footing to secure the future of the jobs depending on them.”

Related topics: Business & Legislation

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