Survey: 59 per cent of hospitality firms forced to close due to isolation shortages

Corona Virus Masks in Restaurant kitchen.

MORE than half of the north's hospitality businesses (59 per cent) have had to partially or completely close due to staff having to isolate, a new Covid-19 survey suggests.

Calling for an urgent revision of Stormont’s isolation policy for close contact situations, Hospitality Ulster said almost a quarter of the respondents (23 per cent) to its survey over the weekend, have been forced to totally close.

The trade body said a growing number of businesses are facing staff numbers dropping so low, they cannot fully function.

Around three-quarters (74 per cent) reported some kind of staff shortage due to isolation, with one-in-five businesses saying they have already closed partially or completely more than twice.

Some 282 businesses responded to the survey carried out between July 23 and 26.

The trade body’s chief executive Colin Neill said the situation is unsustainable.

“It is clear that the current isolation policy is painting an extremely worrying picture of the viability of the hospitality sector caused by staff shortages due to them isolating after close contact with someone testing positive,” he said.

“The current isolation policy for vaccinated staff is clearly a problem and we call on the executive to review and revise the isolation policy immediately to a ‘test to remain at work’ process as the current situation is having a massive negative impact on hundreds of business across Northern Ireland.”

Mr Neill said hospitality businesses, which have already weathered the brunt of Covid-19 restrictions, are now having to close without any financial support in place.

“It is getting to a situation where shutters are being pulled down, staff are forced out of work, and no trade at all is taking place.

“We need our decision makers to urgently review and replace the current isolation policy for the hospitality sector and provide financial support for the staff and owners when businesses are forced to close due to staff isolating.”

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