Newry, Belfast, Derry and Causeway Chambers have called on the Executive to provide indicative dates for the reopening of the retail and hospitality sectors, when they review their Covid Recovery Plan tomorrow, 16 March. It follows the release of a 'roadmap' from the Executive which indicated the order that restrictions may be lifted in but gave no indication of when, apart from saying that there would be regular reviews up to 10 June.

In a joint statement Colm Shannon, Chief Executive of Newry Chamber, Simon Hamilton, Chief Executive of Belfast Chamber, Karen Yates, Chief Executive of Causeway Chamber and Paul Clancy, Chief Executive of Derry Chamber said “Businesses recognise that the Executive’s staged plan provides hope that our economy might reopen but without indicative dates our businesses can’t plan. The vaccine roll out has been a real game changer and the Executive must be congratulated on the rapid role out of this impressive programme.” 

“Our members are at the heart of our communities employing thousands of people in the retail and hospitality sectors. Most of our businesses have seen little trade in the past year and there is a real need for the Executive to give them hope and confidence for the future.”

“Businesses want this to be the last lockdown and do not want to reopen before it is safe to do so. Our members understand the need for the Executive to be cautious, but we believe they can be clearer on their plans for reopening. Indicative dates would give businesses the opportunity to plan for a time when they might reopen. This would help with decisions around when to restock, bring staff back into the business and accept bookings in the hospitality sector.”

“Throughout the crisis created by COVID-19, businesses have stepped forward and played their part. We appreciate the support the Executive has provided but businesses have also invested heavily in measures to protect their staff and customers. They have stretched themselves by using their own reserves to stay in business. One year on, it is getting increasingly difficult, and they call on the Executive to give them the clarity they need so they can plan for the future.”

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