Hospitality staff threatened over Covid passports, MLAs told

Hospitality staff threatened over Covid passports, MLAs told

Hospitality staff have been threatened by angry customers after being asked to show a Covid-19 certificate, MLAs have been told.

Speaking to the finance committee on December 7, Hospitality Ulster chief executive Colin Neill said: “I have seen texts today of threats towards staff about trying to enforce – as we are legally required to do – the proof of Covid certification.

“It is strange that small independent businesses are legally required to enforce Covid rules, when organisations like Translink are not.”

Full enforcement of the Covid-19 certificates, which are required for entry to licensed premises, cinemas, theatres and conference halls, takes effect from December 13.

Mr Neill, below, also told the committee the hospitality sector needed more help as it faced into a period of real uncertainty.

“The rates holiday is still here, but furlough and other assistance have gone,” he said.

“Trading figures are plummeting – I liken it to an avalanche of cancellations and footfall dropping.

The Hospitality Ulster chief also expressed disappointment that a proposed holiday at home voucher scheme apud now not be going ahead.

On Monday, Finance Minsiter Gordon Lyons announced the scheme to help boost tourism’s Covid recovery had been axed, with executive colleagues believed to have refused to up the budget from £2m to £4m.

He said his department had been unable to confirm that the scheme would offer value for money, but that he believed strongly in the idea.

Mr Neill said: “I am disappointed but not surprised at the news, especially at a time when our industry is on its knees.

“While this scheme would have been for accommodation costs, it would have brought more people into our towns and cities, benefiting hospitality businesses. The industry is seeing Christmas disappear before our eyes.”