Pubs in Northern Ireland at 'wit’s end'

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Restriction relax: the NI Executive has said that from Friday 10 September the current requirement for table service will be eased, both indoors and outdoors, to enable customers to go to the bar to place orders or pay (image: Getty/staticnak1983)
Restriction relax: the NI Executive has said that from Friday 10 September the current requirement for table service will be eased, both indoors and outdoors, to enable customers to go to the bar to place orders or pay (image: Getty/staticnak1983)

Related tags: Northern ireland, Public house

Pubs and hospitality businesses in Northern Ireland are “at their wit’s end” the leading trade association Hospitality Ulster has claimed, as the NI Executive has revealed some relaxation of restrictions.

Hospitality Ulster has requested an urgent meeting with Government officials to seek clarification on the changes to the regulations and has called for a road map out of lockdown

The NI Executive has said that from Friday 10 September the current requirement for table service will be eased, both indoors and outdoors, to enable customers to go to the bar to place orders or pay.

In indoor settings customers are still be required to return to their table in order to consume their food or drink and there will be no consumption or sitting at the bar counter. Masks must be worn indoors when not seated. 

Prohibition on movement removed

The Executive has removed the prohibition on movement and standing to allow customers to play darts, pool, gaming machines but they must always wear a mask when not seated. 

Hospitality Ulster welcomed some of the “incremental changes” announcement by the Executive, but said that now is the time to provide indicative dates and a framework of action to move out of the remaining restrictions, which are stifling the sector’s recovery efforts.

 “A major strategic decision needs to be taken by the Executive to bring forward a detailed and specific roadmap to address the problems that are gathering on the horizon – if not now, when?” said Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster. 

Halt on viable training 

 “Hospitality businesses are left hanging while restrictions continue to place a halt on viable trading. We need the best chance we can get to recover. We are concerned that this is not a priority at Stormont Castle. This is a sector that, pre-pandemic, sustained 72,000 – the fourth largest private sector employer. This must be a code red priority for the Executive. Where is the plan; the roadmap; the dates; the additional interim support?”

He added that the organisation has been pressing Executive Ministers to engage with the sector, and work in partnership to ensure that urgency is injected into the recovery phase. 

“Business owners are at their wit’s end and their anxiety is sky high. This really is an unnecessary place to be in,” Neill added. 

“Is it too much to ask that we try and work our way out of this? Until then, a bespoke package of support measures need to be developed and implemented for the hospitality industry. You can’t tie one hand behind our back and expect everything to be ok”.

Related topics: Legislation

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