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Partial reopening unfair and will cost jobs, says HU

Colin Neill, chief executive, Hospitality Ulster.

Reacting to the suggestion that some premises will be allowed to reopen for food but no alcohol sales, Hospitality Ulster has urged the NI Executive to make the right call to save thousands of jobs and hundreds of businesses by allowing the entire hospitality sector to reopen from November 13.

The call comes as this Friday marks a month since the sector was locked down, despite having some of the most stringent rules and legally enforceable regulations in place prior to the move to create a circuit breaker by the government.

The organisation has said that November 13 must serve as the date whereby the sector is given the opportunity to get back on its feet again, but has warned the Executive that if it does not make the right call, then they cannot push a reopening date past November 27. Any date later than that will deny four trading weekends in the lead into Christmas – a key part of the year for the sector.

“We really need the Executive to make sure that the focus is on getting the entire hospitality sector back up and running again this Friday to save a significant amount of jobs and businesses,” said Colin Neill, chief executive, Hospitality Ulster.

“We now face a really important part of the year and although we are live to the fact that this will be an extremely challenging trading period, we need to have the doors open. Hundreds of businesses are struggling and now in debt as they try to keep staff in the face of mounting bills and a lack of financial aid from the government which covers very little in reality.”

“If there is any decision to defer then it simply cannot be for anything more than two weeks. The 27th November, for example, only gives four weekends in which to trade before Christmas. Any date beyond that will have a huge impact and we’ll likely see thousands of layoffs and businesses not fit to reopen again if there is any delay.”

“We have not seen anywhere near the level of financial support needed to preserve businesses that are closed, even the furlough scheme, whilst welcome, does nothing to help those under pressure.
“For example, businesses are expected to pay c£30 a week per employee, so if you have 100 staff, you need to find £3,000 a week from thin air. Every day businesses are closed, means more job losses and more business failures, it’s as simple as that.”

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