The Londonderry Chamber has joined with other Chambers of Commerce from across Northern Ireland to call on the Executive to fast track the opening of retail and hospitality businesses.
The Republic of Ireland announced an accelerated reopening plan over the weekend which will see retail and hospitality businesses there reopen by the end of June.
Paul Clancy, Chief Executive, Derry Chamber of Commerce, said:
“The decision in the Republic of Ireland will leave businesses in Northern Ireland, and especially those in border areas, at a serious disadvantage, and we are urging the Executive to announce a similar timeline for reopening here. If not, we could be left in the unfair and confusing situation where shops in Letterkenny can reopen to customers, but those in Derry cannot.
“As an organisation representing hundreds of businesses which rely heavily on cross border trade and customers, we are very concerned that local companies could lose out to businesses in the south and hope that the Executive will move to align closely its reopening plan with the Republic’s to kickstart our economy and support local businesses.”
In a joint statement the Chambers said:
“Following the recent decision by the Irish Government to open retail stores on Monday, retail in shopping centres on Monday 15th and hotels, pubs and restaurants from Monday 29th, retailers and hospitality businesses, particularly those in border areas, are at a competitive disadvantage. At a time when many businesses are struggling we can’t afford to lose more business to the south, through unfair competition.
“Our members have invested significantly in measures to protect the safety of their staff and customers, and are ready to open. Retailers are at the very heart of their towns and cities, employing local people and would not put their communities at risk. With the right safety measures in place, now is the time for retail to open again and give our High Streets an opportunity to recover.
“Equally our hotel and hospitality sector needs the opportunity to open earlier. July is the peak season and if the southern hospitality sector is allowed to trade from the 29th June, our hotels, restaurants, pubs and B&B’s will suffer further losses. Many families will have to stay at home for their holidays this summer and our hospitality sector needs the opportunity to compete for this “staycation business.”
“As Chambers of Commerce, with retail and hospitality members across Northern Ireland, we call on the Executive to allow our retail and hospitality sectors the opportunity to trade on an equal basis with other businesses on the island. The time is right for the Executive to accelerate the opening of our retail and hospitality sectors.”