Northern Ireland Hotels Federation CEO Janice Gault comments on the additional local restrictions announced by the Northern Ireland Executive this afternoon in relation to Covid-19:
“Businesses operating in the hospitality sector in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area have been anticipating the introduction of new restrictions given that Donegal has effectively been closed for the last week due to a spike in Covid-19 cases. There is a natural ebb and flow of people between the two areas and this has prompted questions around why a Derry-Donegal strategy was not deployed at an earlier juncture.
“For hospitality providers who have been trading responsibly since re-opening on the 3rd July, the new restrictions are a blow as they effectively remove any hope of sustainable trading in the coming weeks. The health and well-being of staff and guests remain the sector’s number one concern. However, with the end of furlough approaching on 31st October 2020 and limited support in the pipeline, it is a worrying time.
“The hope is that this “localised circuit breaker” will reverse the upward infection rate and help to reduce the spread of the virus. There are concerns that the curtailment and effective closure of a well-regulated and responsible industry may lead to an increase of social gatherings in private dwellings and other venues which are significantly more difficult to police.
“It is understood the measures will come into force from next week. The new restrictions will be in place for an initial period of two weeks and reviewed on a weekly basis.”