Although the NI Executive revealed details of a further relaxation of the Covid lockdown restrictions on Tuesday, there is still no indication of when bars and restaurants, non essential retail and hair and beauty salons can resume trading.
Across the rest of the UK, many businesses, such as hair and beauty salons have either reopened this week, or have a date set for reopening, subject to a continued drop in infection rates.
Schools in Northern Ireland are also planning for a return, with pupils in years four to seven back in the classroom from Monday.
Don’t hold off on home heating oil in hopes of price drops, expert urges Northern Ireland consumers
Planning system in Northern Ireland to go down for three weeks as computer crisis looms
Elmfield Estate launches the first Whole Foods and Wellbeing Market this June
Curry’s Fun Park Portrush announce new rides, tokens and appeal for staff
Cheapest area of Northern Ireland for petrol and diesel revealed as price rises continue for 12th consecutive week
Golf and other sporting activities will also be resuming, with certain restrictions in place, from April 1.
Simon Hamilton of the Belfast Chamber described Tuesday’s announcement as a “missed opportunity,”
Ex-DUP MLA and former finance, economy and health minister Mr Hamilton said: “[Tuesday’s] announcement by the Executive was utterly devoid of hope for businesses. Sadly, the Executive have, once again, missed an opportunity to offer businesses in Belfast and right across our region even indicative dates for reopening and allow them time to properly prepare for reopening.
“Many are aghast that whilst our infection and hospitalisation rates compare favourably to Great Britain’s and our vaccination rollout programme is every bit as impressive, we are, seemingly, on the slowest of slow tracks to the reopening of our economy.”
Restaurateur Michael Deane said it would be helpful if the Executive was working with business owners to agree a way forward on safe opening, with certificates of compliance if necessary.
“We are walking the plank blindfolded,” he told the BBC’s Nolan radio show.
“I don’t think they care about hospitality, and that is the way we feel deep down in our hearts.
“I know that my business is safe for people to come in to. We have all the social distancing, all the table plans, all the sanitisation. We have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds to makes Deane’s a safe place to go, and we have been ignored.”
Glyn Roberts of Retail NI said shop owners also feel let down with the lack of information on how far the transmission and community infection rates have to drop before they can begin to prepare for reopening.
“No only did they get no dates, there was no data given for the reason. We got no dates, no timeframe, no nothing, so I have to say I’m bitterly disappointed,” he said.
Mr Roberts added: “Our members are spending millions making sure their stores are safe.”
In Scotland, all shops, gyms and some indoor hospitality venues, are due to open from April 26.
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.
With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers — and consequently the revenue we receive — we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.
Subscribe to newsletter.co.uk and enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland and UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.newsletter.co.uk/subscriptions now to sign up.
Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.