Reacting to the latest announcement by the Northern Ireland Executive on the continuation of the lockdown, the Chief Executives of Hospitality Ulster (Colin Neill), Belfast Chamber (Simon Hamilton), Londonderry Chamber of Commerce (Paul Clancy) and Retail NI (Glyn Roberts) have said in a joint statement:
“We are all encouraged by the declining number of COVID-19 cases and the effective roll out of the vaccination programme across Northern Ireland. However, many of our members will be devastated to hear that the current lockdown, which began on Boxing Day has been extended until Easter. Whilst we recognise the positive steps in the right direction that a return to school for some pupils and permitting click and collect services for some retailers represents, work on the safe reopening of the economy needs to commence now and we welcome the commitment laid out today to bring forward a framework for recovery at the start of March.
“The impact of this crisis and repeated lockdowns on many aspects of our society will be severe and longstanding and no more so than the effect on jobs and the economy. The scale of work that needs to be done to aid economic recovery is immense and should not be underestimated. We make an open offer to the Executive on behalf of the thousands of businesses we represent – work with us, and let’s together develop this reopening and recovery plan that we can implement as soon as the time is right.”