Reacting after the Executive met today to sign off on Covid relaxations, Londonderry Chamber President Dawn McLaughlin said:
“It’s welcome that the Executive has come to a decision today and given our businesses certainty for 24 May, subject to ratification next Thursday. While we would have liked to have seen the full reopening of hospitality as early as 17 May, it’s positive that a date has been agreed well in advance to give business owners time to prepare, order stock, and get their premises in order. The full return of hospitality is crucial for our high street and city centre recovery, sectors which are reliant on each other to thrive, and will be important as we look towards rebuilding. It’s also welcome to see movement on things like large-scale events, concerts, and conferences and exhibitions, which are crucial for the full reopening of our economy and our return to normality.
“There is now a period for the Executive Office to engage properly and extensively with businesses and lay out exactly what they must do to be able to reopen safely and securely on 24 May. The Executive must do everything it can to make sure we avoid the problems we saw across Northern Ireland before 30 April when many outdoor hospitality venues were told at the 11th hour that they could not reopen under the new Covid regulations. Another situation like this would be deeply unfair to these businesses, which have been shut longer and have been harder hit than any others and have invested a great deal of time and energy in making their premises Covid compliant.
“We look forward to the further reopening of the economy in the coming weeks and we would encourage people to keep shopping local and supporting local businesses as they emerge from lockdown. The Executive must now turn its focus to how we can remove further restrictions on businesses and society as we normalise the economy again, including the removal of social distancing and other mitigations which will allow for greater numbers of customers to be welcomed back to our businesses at any one time.”