Yesterday (20 May), the Northern Ireland Executive gave the green light for indoor hospitality to unlock with up to six people from different households able to meet indoors.
More people will be permitted at a table if all are from the same household, up to a maximum of 10.
“We welcome confirmation by the Executive that indoor hospitality can reopen from Monday," says Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster.
"This has been a difficult and draining period for everyone within the hospitality industry and today’s announcement will bring hope to businesses, with people getting back to work and livelihoods restored for many across the sector.
“Acknowledgement and thanks must be paid to the Executive for their financial support and those civil servants who have worked to ensure that hospitality is able to reopen after this awful period.
“As we now look towards Monday’s reopening, the health and wellbeing of customers, staff and the wider public will be the priority for all the hospitality sector business owners. I know that our members have stringent Covid secure processes in place so that customers can enjoy the hospitality offer once again.”
Outdoor hospitality settings in Northern Ireland reopened late last month. However, operators were saddled with 'misguided and draconian' regulations that 'caused chaos' and left many unable to open and out of pocket unnecessarily.
Under the rules for indoor service set to come in on Monday, table service is required and one metre social distancing must be maintained between tables.
"This is not ‘job done’," continues Neill.
"With extensive restrictions still in place, many businesses will still struggle to break even, let alone make a profit.
"It is vital that we see these restrictions removed as soon as possible and engagement from the Executive as we begin the long road of rebuilding what was Northern Ireland’s fourth largest private sector employer, pre-Covid."