Hospitality hopes for 
further easing soon

Remaining coronavirus restrictions on indoor venues should be lifted by the Stormont Executive when it meets next week, a leading events producer has urged.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 10:32 pm
A sign welcoming people back to Harlem Cafe in Belfast City Centre. 

Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
A sign welcoming people back to Harlem Cafe in Belfast City Centre. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Joe Dougan, from the Limelight in Belfast and a key figure behind the Belsonic and Custom House Square gigs, was speaking after social distancing restrictions were removed for shops, theatres and a number of other indoor settings s.

He is amongst those in the hospitality industry hoping that the next meeting, on October 7, will see the Executive remove remaining restictions on indoor events.

“We look forward to the next NI Executive discussion on the matter on October 7, in the hope that the final remaining restrictions on indoor events will be relaxed,” he said.

The chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, Colin Neill, added his voice to those calling for further changes.

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    “As the Executive reconvenes next week, we encourage ministers to maintain this pragmatic approach and address the needs of the hospitality sector with the removal of social distancing and all seated inside,” he said.

    “As the High Street Voucher scheme opens, the sector must be afforded all opportunities to capture its fair share of the spend, which will not be possible if restrictions limiting capacity remain.”

    The sector has effectively been closed since March 2020 and many in the industry have praised the decision for venues such as concert halls, theatres and conference venues to trade normally again.

    Mr Dougan said: “We welcome the NI Executive’s decision to remove social distancing for indoor seated venues, this is a progressive step which will enable many businesses to get back on their feet, and many staff members to return to work.”

    Mr Neill also commented on the latest announcment, he said: “The increase in capacity at indoor seated venues, is a small but pragmatic and positive step forward by the Executive.”

    The changes were agreed during an Executive meeting on Monday, and are due to come into effect from 6pm onwards tomorrow across Northern Ireland.