DUP man-turned-business leader says opening dates come amid ‘jobs crisis’
A business lobbyist and former leading DUP figure has hailed the news about opening dates for some traders – but added that it comes against a backdrop of a looming “jobs crisis”.
Simon Hamilton, a three-time minister in the Stormont government (for finance, the economy, and health departments) who now heads the Belfast Chamber of Commerce, has frequenntly been critical of politicians’ handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Commenting on the NI Executive’s decision to set dates for reopening the economy, Mr Hamilton, chamber chief executive, said:
“Having persistently pressed the Executive to give businesses which have been forced to remain closed for almost four months dates for reopening, Belfast Chamber is pleased to see that ministers have done just that.
“Belfast Chamber has, on the basis of countless conversations with our members, warned that we were facing a jobs crisis in our city.
“Every day, I speak with business owners who are in distress and despair and were becoming devoid of hope.
“We firmly believed that the amazing speed and scale of the vaccination roll-out and the continually-improving health data justified giving those businesses indicative dates for reopening.
“Thankfully, retail, close contact services, hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses now have clear reopening dates that are significantly better than those mooted in the media this morning.
“They can now plan and prepare for trading again in just a few weeks’ time.
“We welcome the Executive’s decision today and the fact that ministers have listened to and responded positively to the concerns expressed by businesses and the genuine fears they had about their futures and the jobs of their staff.
“We now look forward to working with departments and the council to deliver a safe reopening of our city’s economy”.
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