The Stormont executive in Northern Ireland made announcements on Wednesday in regards to the Omicron Covid variant that nightclubs will be forced to close from Boxing Day and table service-only at pubs will come into force on Monday (27 December) along with the reintroduction of the rule that a maximum of six people from different households can be seated at one table.
It also said a decision on any financial help to businesses will be announced next Thursday (30 December).
Hospitality Ulster chief executive Colin Neill said: “Announcing businesses closure without knowing what (if any) financial support is available is contemptable and shows no consideration for staff and business owners.
“Businesses closed, additional restrictions imposed and supply chains impacted, all without details of financial support. What sort of situation is that to force upon an industry that is crying out for support?”
Left high and dry
Neill continued: “Business owners and staff have been left high and dry about their future over Christmas. Do our executive ministers not see what state the hospitality sector is in?
“It’s not acceptable to have to wait until 30 December and have so many people worrying over the holiday period.
“We have worked hard and tried our best to secure financial support and will continue to work to secure the support needed now, and a stimulus for recovery.”
Nightclubs have only been open in Northern Ireland for seven weeks having previously been shut since March 2020.
The NI Executive said along with the closure of nightclubs from Boxing Day, additional restrictions starting that day that affect the sector include all indoor standing events will be prohibited, no dancing will be permitted but this does not apply to weddings and music is still allowed across hospitality.
Table seating rules
From Monday (27 December), a maximum of six people from six households can be seated at a table, or a maximum of 10 people if they are from one household or one bubble with children aged 12 and under being discounted from the total.
Sites will be legally required to inform customers of the table/household restrictions and operators are legally required to take all reasonable steps to ensure compliance.
There will be a requirement to provide table service-only meaning no customers are allowed to order or pay at the bar/counter. Anyone consuming food or drink must be provided with a seat at a table immediately on entering the premises; orders must only be taken from customers from their table, customers can only move within the premises to enter, reach the table at which they are to be seated, access toilet facilities or leave the premises; all food and drink must be consumed by visitors only at the table at which they are seated; and customers must remain seated when at their table.
Additionally, all seats provided for the use of customers must be situated at least one metre from any bar or counter used for the service of food or drink, unless there is a partition on the bar.
The previous restrictions remain in place, which include using face coverings, recording customer details and showing proof of vaccinations.