Hotels, bars and cafes could reopen from July 3

Hotels, bars and cafes could reopen on July 3 if the Stormont executive agrees to the plan.

Friends drinking in a bar.
Friends drinking in a bar.

The BBC are reporting that they understand ministers will consider a timetable of opening at their executive meeting today.

The proposal aimed at restarting Northern Ireland’s hospitality sector is contained in a plan put together by Economy Minister Diane Dodds.

The plan would also mean self-contained caravans and holiday lets could be used from 26 June.

Hotels were scheduled to open on 20 July but many in the industry have been pressing for an earlier date.

From 3 July all hotels, cafes, restaurants and bars that serve food should be allowed to open.

The Department of Health’s death toll, which relates mostly to deaths in hospitals, remains at 541.

It is estimated that the hospitality industry employs 65,000 jobs and is worth £2bn annually.

This morning DUP leader Arlene Foster confirmed that the date for the reopening of hotels is set to be brought forward from July 20.

Mrs Foster said: “I think it’s fair to say that we will be bringing forward the date, we gave an indicative date of the 20th of July.

“Thankfully, the spread of the disease has continued to fall, and we’re very pleased about that, and also looking at the number of hospital admissions and the number of ICU admissions. Therefore we are able to move in a flexible way.”

She told BBC Radio Ulster: “When we launched our plan for moving out of lockdown we specifically did not put dates to the various stages and the reason for that is we wanted to be flexible and move as the virus moves and this has allowed us to deliver things in a proactive way and on an ongoing basis as well.”

A relaxation that allowed people living on their own to interact with one other household in a “social bubble” came into effect in the region on Saturday.

The move saw grandparents reunited with grandchildren after a three-month lockdown absence.

Today, passenger flights resumed at Belfast International Airport, and the housing market also restarted, with estate agents able to show properties to prospective buyers once again.

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