Reacting to the Northern Ireland Executive’s announcement of a five point plan to move forward amid the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic, Colin Neill, Chief Executive, Hospitality Ulster said;
“Whilst health remains everyone’s number one priority, it is regrettable that the Northern Ireland Executive’s ‘Coronavirus: The Executive Approach to Decision Making’ plan does not include even indicative dates that could have been moved if needed.
“The Hospitality Industry, as all other businesses, need to be able to plan- even if that’s planning for closure.
“We are already working on how we can reopen safely, and at the right time, to actually save the jobs that the UK Government’s furlough scheme have so far protected.
“Our industry in particular will require a lead in time of up to six weeks to get ready for trading, as suppliers will need to be able to gear up their processes and production to supply our businesses.
“We cannot open without stock.
“Furthermore, with the Republic of Ireland including dates in their own plan, the Hospitality Industry there now has a competitive advantage over our businesses- indeed they are already taking bookings.
“Northern Ireland’s Hospitality industry must not be disadvantaged.
“Hospitality Ulster has already begun working with relevant statutory bodies around the health and safety requirements for effective social distancing in our businesses.
“When the time is right, reopening must be about how safe a business is, and not what it sells or how large it is.”