Hospitality Ulster demands emergency financial measures for workers due to new lockdown restrictions

  • Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster has said that the lockdown measures signed off by the Executive and Assembly today will be a complete disaster if it does not come with an immediate emergency financial package to cover all costs of the sector now that it has been forced to shut. 

    He added that tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of businesses are now in "free fall".

    The entire hospitality sector is to close from this Friday 16 October apart and deliveries and takeaways for food, with the existing closing time of 11.00pm remaining.

    “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," Neill said. 

    “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.” 

    In addition to current household restrictions, the following measures will also come into regulatory effect on Friday and will be in place for a period of four weeks:

    • Bubbling to be limited to a maximum of 10 people from two households;
    • No overnight stays in a private home unless in a bubble;
    • Other takeaway premises will be brought in line with hospitality with a closing time of 11.00pm;
    • Close contact services such as hairdressers and beauticians are not permitted to open, apart from those relating to the continuation of essential health interventions and therapeutics. 
    • No indoor sport of any kind or organised contact sport involving household mixing other than at elite level;
    • No mass events involving more than 15 people (except for allowed outdoor sporting events where the relevant number for that will continue to apply);
    • Gyms may remain open but for individual training only with local enforcement in place;
    • Funerals to be limited to 25 people with no pre- or post-funeral gatherings; 
    • Off licenses and supermarkets will not sell alcohol after 8.00pm;
    • Wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships to be limited to 25 people with no receptions.  This will be implemented on Monday 19 October. 
    • Venues providing the post-ceremony or partnership celebration 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 party and this will be limited to 25;

    And the following advice will be added to the existing health guidance:    

    • Work from home unless unable to do so;
    • Universities and further education to deliver distance learning to the maximum extent possible with only essential face to face learning where that is a necessary and unavoidable part of the course;
    • No unnecessary travel should be undertaken.

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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