Dodds welcomes easing of restrictions on visits to Belfast and Portadown

Economy Minister hailed the reopening of retail, outdoor hospitality and some tourism accommodation as “another significant milestone as we move out of lockdown”.

Monday, 3rd May 2021, 9:50 am
Economy Minister, Diane Dodds, met Thomas Vaughan of Out Haus during a visit to Portadown

The Minister visited Victoria Square Belfast as city centre shops reopened under the recent Coronavirus guidelines.

She was joined by Centre Manager Michelle Greeves, as well as Simon Hamilton and Michael Stewart of Belfast Chamber of Commerce as they met with retailers and business owners, such as John Lunn from Lunn’s the Jewellers, as they welcomed customers back after four months.

She then travelled to Portadown where she joined Glyn Roberts, the Chief Executive of Retail NI and Adrian Farrell of the town’s Chamber of Commerce. They spent time speaking to retailers, such as Orchard Bridal Shop, about the experience of trading after lockdown.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Economy Minister, Diane Dodds, met Nigel Jameson and Matthew Winter of Ivan Jameson Outfitters and Glyn Roberts of Retail NI, during a visit to Portadown

This included a visit to Orchard Bridal Shop where she met bride-to-be Christine van Schalkwyk and heard from owner Neil Anderson.

She visited a number of other outlets including Robert Davidson School Wear, Kabra, Ivan Jameson Outfitters, Out Haus and JR McMahon.

The Minister then visited the Seagoe Hotel in the Armagh town where she joined Janice Gault of the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation and Darren Gilbert and Rory Cooper from the hotel to view the measures they have taken to reopen its outdoor spaces to customers.

Minister Dodds said: “The reopening of our economy has started in earnest and I am delighted to see retail outlets alongside outdoor hospitality, self-contained tourism accommodation, swimming pools and gyms begin trading again under the latest Coronavirus guidelines.

Economy Minister, Diane Dodds, met Neil Anderson, the owner of Orchard Bridal shop, and bride to be Christine van Schalkwyk during a visit to Portadown

“After a long winter, we can now look forward. Shoppers are now back in our high streets, customers are once again enjoying outdoor hospitality and we are seeing the return of holidaymakers to self-contained accommodation. We still have much ground to cover but economic recovery is on the horizon and the reopening of so much our economy today an most important move towards it.

“Northern Ireland takes another step towards normality today. It is vital that this momentum is maintained. Every one of us can play our part by following the guidance to ensure a safe as well as an enjoyable experience.

Earlier the Minister revealed further details on the High Street Stimulus (HSS) and Holiday at Home Voucher schemes which will boost economic recovery.

She added: “The High Street Stimulus and Holiday at Home Voucher schemes will provide a timely boost to our economic recovery. The HSS will provide eligible applicants with a pre-paid card to the value of £100 which will deliver a much-needed cash injection of over £140m to boost retail, hospitality and other sectors. And the Holiday at Home Voucher scheme will allow Northern Ireland households to claim back 50% off a stay of two nights or more in certified accommodation, up to the value of £100. Vouchers will also be issued, offering 50% off visits to attractions or tourism experience providers, up to the value of £20.”

Minister Diane Dodds with Michelle Greeves, Centre Manager of Victoria Square Belfast and John Lunn of Lunn's Jewellers

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper whenever you are able to do so.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspaper when you can safely.

You can also enjoy unlimited access to the best news from across Northern Ireland and the UK by subscribing to

With a digital subscription, you can read more than five articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit now to sign up.

Thank you