THE Executive has been urged to bring forward the opening of the hospitality sector in the North of Ireland as Boris Johnson announced pints will be allowed in pubs in England from Monday, May 17.
Yesterday, no new Covid-related deaths were reported in England, Scotland, the Northern of Ireland or the Republic.
Hospitality Ulster, the umbrella lobby group for the industry, has said pubs and restaurants in the North of Ireland should also be allowed to welcome customers indoors at the same time as their counterparts in England.
It comes as the organisation called for a review of the rule of six and social distancing requirements as it warned that four out of five licensed premises have said they will not return to profit until next year.
Pubs and restaurants in the Derry City and Strabane Disrict Council area are now nearing the end of their lockdown over the past 15 months.
It went into a second lockdown on October 5 last year after a surge in Coronavirus infection.
Hospitality Ulster chief executive Colin Neill said: “The hospitality sector needs to reopen now and has been working towards this phase for some time with track and trace systems in place and Covid secure environments as standard.
“There is also clear demand from customers, so we need to see the Executive be responsive to that for the sector to benefit after an awful year.“As we move forward, our Executive and those in charge of setting the rules and guidelines on how we reopen, must consider the implications of the decisions they are making on the businesses that make up the hospitality sector.
“Although Northern Ireland now has a reopening roadmap for hospitality, it still lags behind that of the other three nations, both for outdoor and indoor trading.”
Yesterday, Northern Ireland recorded 76 new Covid-19 cases linked to the virus.
There were 59 inpatients with Covid-19, of which six were in intensive care and five care home outbreaks.
At the same time, 976,582 people have received a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, of which 493,553 have received a second dose.
Health officials have launched a new public information campaign to further boost the vaccination drive here.
It will feature television, radio adverts and a strong social media push, promoting the message that vaccines help the whole community and will assist in the removal of restrictions in the weeks and months ahead.
It aims to maintain strong take-up rates, particularly as the programme is opened up to younger people, who may be more reticent to have the jab.
Dr Stephen Bergin from the Public Health Agency said: “Vaccination is one of the most important things we can do to protect our community against serious illness.
“The Covid-19 vaccines are safe and very effective.
“The vaccines have gone through the same safety checks as any of the other long established vaccines and will protect you and the people close to you.”
Yesterday, the British Prime Minister announced details of further relaxations in England, including pubs and restaurants being allowed to serve people from inside from Monday, May 17, hugging will be allowed, and galleries, theatres, cinemas and soft play centres can also reopen.
The North of Ireland’s roadmap out of lockdown is moving at a slower pace, with only an indicative date currently in place which will allow licensed premises to serve customers indoors from Monday, May 24, if given the green light by the Executive which meets this Thursday to discuss the restrictions.Tags: