Indoor Hospitality Services Resume In Northern Ireland
Indoor hospitality services resume in Northern Ireland today (Monday May 24).
Restaurants, Cafés And Pubs
As reported by rte.ie, six people from an unlimited number of households are permitted to sit inside restaurants, cafés and pubs in Northern Ireland from today, and that number does not include children.
Orders will be taken and delivered via table service only, contact tracing measures will be in place and social distancing of one metre will be required.
Hotels And B&Bs
Hotels and B&Bs in Northern Ireland are also permitted to reopen from today.
Museums, Galleries, Cinemas, Household Visits And Travel
Additionally, museums, galleries and cinemas in Northern Ireland are permitted to reopen from today too, six people from two households are permitted to meet indoors in private homes and overnight stays are permitted, and overseas travel to 12 countries that are currently on Northern Ireland's "green list" is permitted.
The countries that are currently on Northern Ireland's "green list" include Australia, Gibraltar, Iceland, New Zealand Portugal.
Individuals who travel to Northern Ireland from countries on its "green list" are required to take PCR tests before and after travelling to Northern Ireland.
Travel within the common travel area, which consists of the Republic of Ireland, the UK, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, is permitted without having to self-isolate, but public health advice states that travellers should take lateral flow tests post- and pre-departure.
Agreed Last Week
Northern Ireland's reopening measures were agreed by the Stormont Executive last week.
Northern Ireland First Minister And Deputy First Minister Statements
Rte.ie quotes Northern Ireland first minister Arlene Foster as saying, "We must continue to do all we can as a community to keep ourselves and each other safe, and I appeal to everyone to be cautious to help ensure we can keep heading in the right direction.”
Additionally, rte.ie quotes Northern Ireland deputy first minister Michelle O'Neill as saying, "As we look forward to better times, it is crucial that everyone continues taking steps to stop the virus from spreading. The last year has taught us that we can't take anything for granted, so we are urging everyone to stay safe, be careful and help protect this good progress."
A Hard Year
Hotels in Northern Ireland are reopening today after losing 1.67 million bookings in 2020, and after revenues from accommodation in Northern Ireland declined by 63% last year, according to research from Northern Irish accounting firm ASM.
As reported by The Irish News, ASM's research found that the room occupancy rate in Northern Ireland decreased from 79.3% in 2019 to 30% in 2020.
Northern Irish hotels were open for an average of 230 days in 2020, or 63% of the year.
ASM's research found that, even with the UK government's furlough scheme, the number of full-time equivalent staff members employed by Northern Irish hotels decreased by 2,100, or 29%, last year, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) decreased by an average of 90% from the figure recorded for 2019.
ASM reportedly said that COVID-19-related travel restrictions and lockdowns resulted in the lowest demand for hotel bedrooms in Northern Ireland in decades, and that, in some market segments, hotels recorded negative earnings.
Additionally, ASM's research found that compliance costs after the first COVID-19-related lockdown in Northern Ireland cost an average of £18,775 per hotel, ongoing expenditure on personal protective equipment (PPE) averages £2,200 per hotel per month and stock wastage caused by COVID-19-related closure periods averaged £4,600 per hotel per shutdown.
ASM Directors Statements
The Irish News quotes ASM director Michael Williamson as saying, "Trading was seriously compromised at hotels during the year, with some areas faring worse than others.
"In the Derry City and Strabane District Council area, hotels were open for only 195 days on average, which means that earnings were virtually wiped out.
"Worryingly, staff numbers declined by 54%. The basic principle in business that costs reduce at a slower rate than a decline in revenues was proven in 2020.
"Average income including grants reduced by 56%, but earnings reduced by 90% compared to 2019. This was a hammer blow to the industry.”
Additionally, The Irish News quotes ASM director Adrian Patton as saying that assuming that "there are no further periods of closure, then the number of trading days available in the year is less than in 2020, and with loans and other liabilities due for repayment, those businesses will be under a high level of pressure, therefore, the industry will need further support.
"Having made the point, reopening gives them a chance to fight back and start making headway."
NIHF Chief Executive Statements
Northern Ireland Hotels Federation (NIHF) chief executive Janice Gault reportedly said that, with businesses reopening, there is an air of palpable hope across the Northern Irish hospitality sector.
The Irish News quotes Gault as saying, "What is clear is that, if we are to make the type of economic recovery that is required, a more holistic approach to decision making may be needed, as COVID-19 moves from the pandemic to endemic status."
© 2021 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.