Tables booked up in NI restaurants before green light given for opening - ‘don’t arrive on spec, check to avoid disappointment’

The CEO of Hospitality Ulster, Colin Neill, has revealed that “tables have been booked up” around NI on May 24.

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 2:03 pm

The news comes as the Northern Ireland Executive is expected to rubberstamp the indoor reopening on Monday of pubs, restaurants, hotels, cafes, and visitor attractions when it meets later today.

He said that in anticipation of the NI Assembly giving the hospitality industry the “green light”, that businesses have been “inundated with booking requests”.

He said that “people have been waiting for months and months and are dying to get back out and socialising with their friends and family”.

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Table service

And when asked if he knew of any restaurants in Belfast City centre with spare tables for next week, he said: “Are you joking! No one is keeping spare tables for next week.

“As soon as the date was announced, even as an indicative date, people started to book.

“This is a good sign.

“Obviously what we saw in England was an initial surge, but after that it drops off.

Indoor drinking and eating

“Restaurants have been booked up from Monday 24 May, for those that are taking orders.”

He added that “all indications look as if we are on course because our infection rate is lower than England and Scotland, so I can no reason why it won’t go ahead”.

Mr Neill added that if the go-ahead is given “we will still have controls in place in hospitality”.

He added that he would like to ask the public to be “courteous” to staff in the hospitality industry.

Orla Keegan and Cara McCloskey at the Botanic Inn in Belfast

“I would encourage people to see whether they can book the restaurant they want, find out if they are booked up because turning up on spec might be disappointing.

“And remember not every venue is taking bookings.

“And please be courteous to the staff because they don’t make the rules, have not worked in teams for a long time and remember that table service is hard work where staff walk miles every day,”