Late summer date planned for £100 shopping vouchers scheme

Every adult in Northern Ireland will be able to apply for a £100 voucher to spend on the high street it has been announced as society takes its next steps out of lockdown.

Friday, 30th April 2021, 5:02 am
Leah Matthews at The White Lighthouse Interiors and Furniture in east Belfast prepares to reopen today

From today, all non-essential retail is allowed to reopen alongside gyms, swimming pools and outdoor hospitality – including both licensed and unlicensed premises.

Further restrictions being lifted today include the curfews on takeaways on off-licences, and the rules preventing people returning to their caravans or taking a trip to other types of self-contained tourist accommodation.

And there is more good news for people with up to 15 people from three households now allowed to meet in private gardens.

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Economy Minister Diane Dodds has used the occasion to reveal further details of ‘High Street Stimulus’ and ‘Holiday at Home’ voucher schemes – but the scheme won’t kick-in until the end of the summer at the earliest.

Eligible adults will be asked to apply for the pre-paid high-street voucher card through a dedicated online portal.

“Today is a day for looking forward,” Mrs Dodds said.

“The reopening of retail outlets alongside outdoor hospitality, self-contained tourism accommodation, swimming pools and gyms under the latest coronavirus guidelines is another significant milestone as we move out of lockdown.”

She continued: “Our High Street Stimulus (HSS) scheme will provide a timely boost to this recovery. It will provide eligible applicants with a pre-paid card worth £100. This means up to 1.4 million people will spend an extra £140m on our high streets rather than online. This has a multiplier effect which will help bring many more customers back through the doors of local retail, hospitality and other sectors.”

On the timing of the scheme, she said: “We have commissioned research into when the HSS would be most beneficial to our economic recovery. We expect there will be pent-up demand following the easing of restrictions. Therefore we believe that the end of the summer is the appropriate time to deliver this spending boost.”

Meanwhile, the latest figures from Stormont show no further coronavirus deaths and 95 cases in the last 24-hour reporting period.