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NI Hospitality Venues May Be Asked To Close Over Christmas If Current COVID-19 Trajectory Continues, Says NI Health Minister

Published on Nov 23 2021 8:39 AM in General Industry tagged: Trending Posts / Northern Ireland / COVID-19 / scores on the doors

NI Hospitality Venues May Be Asked To Close Over Christmas If Current COVID-19 Trajectory Continues, Says NI Health Minister

Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann has said that hospitality venues may be asked to close over Christmas if the current trajectory of COVID-19 in Northern Ireland continues.

Swann Statements

As reported by The Belfast Telegraph, Swann told MLAs, "If the current trajectory continues with regard to the increased cases we are seeing, we may once again face the possibility where venues are asked to close their doors during the Christmas season.

"But let me be clear, it is not inevitable, and I do not want to have to reintroduce further restrictions unless completely unavoidable."

Swann reportedly said that anyone working from home when the pandemic began should do so again, and has reportedly also suggested a new scoring system on COVID compliance for businesses.

The "scores on the doors" scheme, which is reportedly similar to those in place for food safety standards, would reportedly see the development of a COVID rating for businesses based on an assessment of the measures they have in place and their compliance with public health regulations.

Additionally, Swann reportedly warned that local compliance with mask wearing and the use of face coverings is insufficient and enforcement needs to be strengthened and action taken against those who are non-compliant.

Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Statements

Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill reportedly tweeted that the meeting to discuss Swann's paper was positive and that the Executive would meet again on Tuesday November 23 "to finalise the approach".

Criticisms

However, the Executive was reportedly branded "a laughing stock" as it met to discuss new COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions on Monday November 22, the same day that MLAs were asked to approve previous relaxations.

Speaking as  Swann warned that hospitality venues may have to close over Christmas if COVID-19 cases keep increasing, People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll reportedly said that if the situation was not "so grievously serious", it would be farcical.

Carroll reportedly said, "How long does the Executive expect people to stay on this merry-go-round of emergency restrictions to deal with the surges caused by their own diabolical decision making?

"We were asked on Monday [November 22] to rubber-stamp COVID regulations, which were introduced weeks ago to end social distancing in hospitality venues.

"This is the kind of democratic deficit you could have expected from Donald Trump, but the Executive has been working this way for nearly two years.

"Worse, these relaxations have made headlines because of 170-related COVID cases in just one hospitality venue. And, just hours prior, the Executive themselves were debating new restrictions to deal with such surges."

Ministers will reportedly meet again today (Tuesday November 23) to discuss plans to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The Executive reportedly discussed the Health Minister's proposals on Monday November 22, and talks will reportedly continue today.

An Executive spokesperson reportedly said, "While the meeting was constructive and progress was made, it was agreed that more work was required and the Executive is due to meet again on Tuesday morning to continue its discussions."

Justice Minister Naomi Long reportedly said on Monday November 22 that businesses need to "step up" and help ensure the use of face masks on their premises.

Swann's paper reportedly proposes that the Alliance leader's department should oversee plans to raise compliance levels above 80%, but Long reportedly told the BBC that her department does not have enforcement powers, and that personal responsibility is needed.

Long reportedly called for a "coordinated effort" across departments to encourage greater usage.

© 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.

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