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Financial support welcomed but lockdown must be avoided

Colin Neill, chief executive, Hospitality Ulster.

Welcoming the latest package of support for the hospitality industry announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Hospitality Ulster has also cautioned against any return to lockdown for Northern Ireland.

Earlier today, the Chancellor announced the Government will pay two-thirds of wages for staff in pubs, restaurants and other hospitality businesses placed under mandatory closure measures related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This announcement by the Chancellor today of more support for businesses which are forced to close is to be welcomed and comes after sustained lobbying by Hospitality Ulster,” said Colin Neill, chief executive, Hospitality Ulster.

“We have made it clear over the last number of weeks that additional restrictions on the hospitality industry without extra financial support and in particular a targeted scheme for protecting thousands of jobs and livelihoods would result in total business failure.

“We are hopeful that this support will be a cushion for many hospitality businesses. The hospitality sector in the likes of Derry City and Strabane District council area has really been forced to close through prohibitive restrictions, so we must get clarity on what closure means and that it is interpreted as broadly as it can be.”

“While financial support is important, it is crucial that the NI Executive continues to work with the industry to avoid local lockdowns wherever possible.

“We absolutely recognise the need to get the virus under control once again, but it should be noted that significant investment has been undertaken by the hospitality industry to be Covid-19 secure. Businesses and employees cannot afford another period of limbo and we all have to work together to save lives and livelihoods.”

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