Newry Chamber of Commerce &Trade has released a statement expressing disappointment at the absence of indicative dates for reopening in the NI Executive's review of their COVID-19 recovery plan.

An empty Canal Bank Car Park in Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
An empty Canal Bank Car Park in Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

In a statement, the Chamber’s CEO Colm Shannon, said “The NI Executive announcement brought further disappointment for businesses in the retail and hospitality sectors. At a time when Scotland published indicative dates for their businesses, the Executive remained steadfast in their refusal to do so. After a year, businesses understand the difficult choices the Executive must make, but indicative dates that may have to be pushed back are more acceptable than none.

“The extension of click and collect to all retailers was welcome but it is disappointing they will have to wait until 12th April.  More welcome was the extension of rates support for a further twelve months and the Finance Minister’s announcement of  £178m in new business support grants.”

Stressing the need for businesses to plan after a lengthy period of closure, the CEO added “Businesses want this to be the last lockdown and do not want to reopen before it is safe to do so. Equally, after a year of COVID there is real uncertainty and worry in the business community.

“We are coming into the Spring which is an important period for both the retail and hospitality sectors. They need to plan for reopening to maximise the opportunities this will provide. Indicative dates would give businesses the opportunity to plan for a time when they might reopen. They can’t wait until the 15th April for the Executive to provide a further update. The Chamber would call on the Executive to publish indicative dates before their next review date of 15th April."

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