Hotels in Northern Ireland to reopen from July 20th
Guest houses, B&Bs, hostels and caravan parks also set to open next month
North’s economy Minister Diane Dodds stressed that progress on reopening would depend on controlling the rate of transmission of the virus
Last week First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said that hotels could start taking bookings “at risk” but they did not give a date for when the hotels could open, causing bemusement and confusion within the industry.
On Monday however DUP Minister Ms Dodds said the time now was right to provide clarity about opening dates.
She said that hotels would reopen on July 20th, which is also the target date in the South, and this also would apply to guest accommodation, B&Bs and hostels.
Moreover from that date holiday and home parks, caravan sites and self-catering properties can open.
As they are self-contained and may require less advance notice before opening, the opening times for these types of accommodation may be advanced to earlier than July 20th depending on scientific advice,” said Ms Dodds.
“I want to build upon the positive progress in managing the spread of the virus and begin to re-open our tourism industry in a safe and managed way,” added the Minister.
Ms Dodds stressed that progress on re-opening would depend on controlling the rate of transmission of the virus. “These dates are conditional on the continued containment of the spread of Covid-19,” she said.
Ms Dodds said tourist accommodation would operate in a “new and challenging world” when it begins to emerge from coronavirus.
She added, “We need to enable businesses to plan ahead to ensure social distancing and hygiene practices are in place and staff are trained. These practices will also be essential to reassure customers and employees that establishments are Covid-19 safe.
“Enabling accommodation businesses to generate essential revenue will help to protect individuals and livelihoods which support families and communities across Northern Ireland.”
Janice Gault, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation welcomed the move. “This is a step forward for the industry and the federation has been working closely with industry colleagues to ensure that businesses can open in a safe and secure manner,” she said.
“There is more work to be done around the details of opening. We will continue to work in a collaborative manner so that the visitor economy, including the hotel sector, can return to business and help restore the Northern Ireland economy,” she added.
“The safety of our staff and guests will be paramount in this process. Having an agreed date will help us to plan, promote and give businesses the opportunity to assess their viability,” said Ms Gault.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus death rate in Northern Ireland remains at a low level. On Monday afternoon the Department of Health reported one more death in the North, taking the fatality toll to 524.
Last Tuesday no deaths were recorded and since then a total of ten people died from coronavirus.
The department also reported twelve new cases of Covid-19 bringing the number of confirmed cases in the North to 4,728. So far 53,121 people have been tested for the virus.