THE hospitality sector in the North of Ireland is seeking assurances from Stormont that it can reopen on Friday, December 11.
The hospitality sector, along with non-essential retail and close contact services, will close for two weeks from this Friday as part of circuit-break restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus before Christmas.
Pubs, wine bars, restaurants and hotels were due to reopen this Friday but will stay shut for a further two weeks at least.
In Derry, the hospitality sector went into a second shut down on October 5 after a huge spike in Coroanvirus cases.
But the lockdown has driven down the number of positive COVID-19 cases across the council district, with only 75 recorded in the past two days.
The fresh measures were announced by Stormont last week after warnings the health service could become overwhelmed if action was not taken.
Hospitality Ulster chief executive Colin Neill said he is writing to First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill to ask for clarity to allow businesses to plan.
“This is an extremely important part of the year for a number of reasons, but even more so this year as business owners fight to save jobs and their businesses, and reduce their crippling losses in the very short pre-Christmas trading period if it comes,” he said.
“The hospitality sector has suffered immensely this year, and the opportunity to be open and doing what they do best over Christmas would bring both a much needed morale boost and ease some of the financial pressures.”
Mr Neill added: “If the Executive decides to make the unfortunate call to continue with the lockdown over (the) Christmas period they must make this decision now instead of at the eleventh hour.
“We’ve been in situations in the last few months when decisions have been made way too late which causes huge confusion and additional financial losses within the sector.
“This simply cannot happen again.”
Ms Foster and Ms O’Neill announced on Tuesday, as part of a plan agreed across the UK, that people from three households will be allowed to meet indoors over Christmas.