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Domino effect looms as NI declares health and hospitality crisis

Published:  14 October, 2020

Northern Ireland has announced a month-long circuit breaker lockdown, signalling fears that similar measures could be on the way for the rest of the UK.

Following late night talks, the new measures have now been officially confirmed with pubs and restaurants in Northern Ireland forced to close other than for takeaways for four weeks from Friday 16 October.

The hospitality industry has reacted to the news, with Colin Neill from Hospitality Ulster telling BBC NI: “We understand that obviously health comes first, but I think it’s fair to say the hospitality industry has done more than any other industry to step up with measures.

“We have a health crisis, we accept that, but we also now have a hospitality crisis.”

Northern Ireland will now receive at least £2.4bn in extra money to deal with the coronavirus. But the government will also consider “imaginative” ways of protecting jobs, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at today’s Prime Minister’s Questions.

The news follows a growing trend of stricter lockdown measures across the UK, and concerns over the knock-on effect for hospitality businesses.

The new three-tier system of Covid-19 restrictions began in England today, while similar ‘circuit breaker’ measures – temporary closures of services and a ban on mixing – is now being actively considered in Wales.

Businesses in the north of England, some of the worst affected areas in the country, are now calling for more government assistance.

Liverpool is now on high alert, with reports of street parties breaking out in the city ahead of this afternoon’s closures of pubs and bars.

Liverpool and the neighbouring five boroughs which make up the city region will be under Tier 3 coronavirus measures from 5pm today, affecting hundreds of pubs and bars.

Prime Minister’s Questions, which were ongoing at the time of writing, are now discussing whether to put Greater Manchester and Lancashire in the most severe Tier 3.

Andy Burnham, Labour mayor of Greater Manchester, has called the Tier 3 proposal “fundamentally flawed”.

“First, the evidence does not currently support it,” he said, adding that, “The financial package accompanying Tier 3 is nowhere near sufficient to prevent severe hardship, widespread job losses and business failure.”

Others are similarly dour about the effect of a second full lockdown on businesses.

“To be honest I think we're done,” Dan’s Bar owner Gerard Keenan told the BBC.

"In a couple of weeks or so, if it hasn't changed I think we've no choice, we'll have to sell our bar, I don't really want to do this anymore.”