Call for reassurance around future lockdowns
BDO’s Brian Murphy is among those currently attempting to negotiate a swift exit from lockdown for the local hospitality trade. Here, he tells LCN that the sector needs urgently to be reassured that further shutdowns are not on the horizon.
‘The last thing that the hospitality sector in Northern Ireland needed was another lockdown. Unfortunately, though, that is where we are at until the four-week period expires on November 13.
‘Many operators within the industry believe that the restrictions are too excessive and that they could in fact lead to more damaging consequences further down the line with the very real prospect of business closures and redundancies. That said, we cannot ignore the continuing threat posed by the pandemic and the risk that the second wave could be worse than what has been experienced previously.
‘As chair of the Hospitality Industry Response Group, I and the other group members, have focused our efforts on engagement with the NI Executive and with other stakeholders in the industry to gain an understanding of the drivers behind the Executive’s decision to go into a further lockdown. With this understanding, we will seek to establish a pathway to allow the hospitality sector to reopen again at the end of the four-week period without any extensions or restrictions.
Furthermore, we firmly believe that we need to establish a working environment in which we can all continue to trade without the spectre of further lockdowns eroding the sector’s confidence and the ability to plan for the future. Our engagement with the Executive has continued at pace since the lockdown was instigated and it is encouraging that the Ministers and their advisors share our desire to strike a workable balance between the economic and health challenges that we all face.
‘It is also encouraging that the Chancellor has made the Job Support Scheme more attractive and useable by businesses. Whilst this is welcomed, we are continuing to press for further support for the sector both from the Executive and the UK government.
‘The challenges facing the hospitality sector are significant, but by working together we stand the best chance of weathering the storm.
Brian Murphy is a managing partner at BDO NI.