Hospitality venues in Northern Ireland saddled with four-week 'circuit breaker' closure - updated

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Restaurants and pubs in Northern Ireland face four-week closure under 'circuit breaker' plans

Related tags Northern ireland Coronavirus Restaurant Pub lockdown

Restaurants and pubs in Northern Ireland must close for four weeks from Friday (16 October) under tough new 'circuit breaker' restrictions.

The measures were announced this morning (14 October) by First Minister Arlene Foster in an address to the Northern Ireland Assembly in Stormont.

A complete closure of the hospitality sector, apart from for deliveries and takeaways, is among the new restrictions being imposed by the executive.

Fast-food and takeaway premises continuing to operate will also be subject to an 11pm curfew.

Other measures announced include ordering off-licences and supermarkets to not sell alcohol beyond 8pm; a complete shutdown of 'close-contact services' apart from those meeting essential health needs; and a ban on indoor sport of any kind.

Schools will also be closed for a two week period that encompasses the half term break.

It comes as Northern Ireland reported 863 new cases of the virus yesterday (13 October), with seven more Coronavirus-related deaths recorded.

Trade NI, an alliance of Hospitality Ulster, Manufacturing NI and Retail NI, warned yesterday (13 October) that a new lockdown on business would cripple Northern Ireland’s economy and potentially set it back decades.

In a joint statement, the chief executives of the three trade said the shutdown would 'cause economic devastation, resulting in tens of thousands of job losses which will have a huge impact on communities'.

“No effective help is being offered to those businesses that will be forced to close as a result of a loss of trade, footfall and consumers, nor those who will lose their incomes over these difficult winter months.

“The viability of business is important to keep people in work at a time when the unemployment count in the last six months has doubled. If predictions are correct, we could expect a further 40,000 redundancies before Christmas, potentially more.”

*Article updated at 10:55am on 14 October to reflect the First Minister's confirmation of the new restrictions.

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