Hospitality Ulster has warned that industry job losses will be in the tens of thousands without an opening date.

It comes as the Executive announced series of proposed lockdown relaxations in Northern Ireland.

The measures, which have been earmarked to come into effect from June 8, include small marriages in an outdoor setting with guests limited to 10.

Whilst the executive recognises that the hospitality industry has been hardest hit, ministers in their announcement did not mention a date for when hotels can reopen.

However, the First Minister and Deputy First Minister announced that hotels will be able to take advanced bookings “at risk” from the 8th June.

Reacting to the lack of a reopening date from the Executive today, Colin Neill, from Hospitality Ulster said:

“We welcome the First Minister and Deputy First Minister’s announcement that hotels will be able to take advanced bookings “at risk” from the 8th June, and also that the Northern Ireland Executive recognises hospitality has been hardest hit.

“But, the anticipated announcement from the UK Chancellor that businesses will be expected to pay 20% of the furlough cost, compounded by the lack of an indicative opening date, leaves hospitality businesses with no option but to start redundancy processes.

“Hospitality businesses simply have no money to pay staff when the furlough is reduced, and have borrowed heavily just to last this long.

“We cannot remain closed beyond the end of July.

“It is basic economics; no money in means no money to pay wages.

“Our counterparts in GB and ROI have been given dates and are taking bookings already, whilst our own industry has been placed in phase five of the Northern Ireland reopening plan- the last phase- along with full use of public transport.

“We now expect to see tens of thousands of redundancy notices to be issued in the coming weeks- a situation we are desperate to avoid.

“Furloughing only preserves jobs, they are only saved when we reopen.

“The Northern Ireland Executive must not base decision making on memories of what our industry looked like pre Covid-19, but on our safe working plans for the ‘new normal’.

“All businesses should be able to open based on safety, and our hospitality industry is preparing extensive measures to create a safe environment for both staff and customers.

“It would be unforgivable to see job losses on a massive scale, and a waste of all the support we have been given to date.”

Hopsitality Ulster is calling on ministers to give hotels here a date so they can work together to put the appropriate safety procedures in place for when they do reopen.

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