Call for hospitality sector to comply with Covid-19 guidance
Colin Neill, chief executive, Hospitality Ulster.
Hospitality Ulster has called on the hospitality industry to treat all government guidance as instructions to help stop the spread of Covid-19. It is also asking businesses to stop selling alcohol after 11pm and suspend live music as these are identified as high-risk areas.
As the Republic of Ireland brings in new restrictions around the likes of sporting events and social gatherings, Hospitality Ulster has said that we need to be on the front foot here and that the sector has a big part to play – but enforcement powers must be brought in to tackle rogue premises.
Although parts of the hospitality sector have opened safely from the start of July, traditional non-food serving pubs are still closed, with an indicative reopening date of September 1. The organisation has said that any irresponsible behaviour could drive a further increase in the virus and result in the entire sector being closed again.
Hundreds of traditional non-food pubs have still to reopen and if we do not get control of the virus their September reopening date is unlikely, increasing the significant financial risk with thousands of job losses forthcoming if the NI Executive doesn’t step in and provide support to halt a disaster. Likewise, our music and events venues remain closed and urgently need financial support.
“This is a black and white issue for the hospitality sector,” said Colin Neill, chief executive, Hospitality Ulster. “As an industry we must do all we can to reduce the spread of the virus and limit irresponsible behaviour. We are therefore calling on our industry to take all government guidance as instructions. We would also go further and ask licensed premises to stop serving alcohol at 11pm and stop all live music/DJs to help control the spread of this virus.
“These additional measures will hurt what are responsible businesses, but it is our understanding that these are the high-risk areas and acting now may save lives and also avoid a total closure of the hospitality sector.
“The vast majority of our industry have and continue to act responsibly, but we need urgent action by the NI Executive to reinforce our calls, with legal measures, as rogue businesses will just ignore these calls and undermine the actions of the responsible majority.
“The NI Executive must suspend all late liquor licences; suspend provision of music under entertainment licences; and introduce the power of closure for premises that blatantly ignore government guidance.
“Our industry now needs to double-down in relation to adherence to the guidance. This turbulent period is a long way from being over and we have to remain steadfast in doing all we can to curtail the spread.
“We certainly do not want to see the scenes that we did in the media from Dublin at the weekend. Whilst there are isolated incidents like this, they serve as hard reminders that we must take our responsibilities seriously.
“If we want to limit the spread of the virus and get businesses back up and running again, we must put all and every line of the guidance into practice. If anyone decides to ignore the guidance and take risks beyond what is allowed and responsible, they should feel the full force of the law and be shut down, period.”