Northern Ireland news

Around 1,000 hotel rooms to remain open for key workers

Janice Gault, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation
Connla Young

AROUND 1,000 hotel rooms will remain open to meet the needs of key workers and others despite the hospitality industry going into lockdown.

Hospitality businesses have been forced to close their doors under tough new restrictions announced by the executive to help curb spiralling coronavirus cases.

Pubs and restaurants will only be able to operate takeaway and delivery services.

First minister Arlene Foster also said hotels can only stay open on a “restricted basis” for certain groups including key workers.

Janice Gault, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation, last night confirmed that some hotel rooms will remain available.

“The federation estimates that around 1,000 rooms will remain in market to service the needs of the categories of outlined by the executive,” she said.

“This may be revised over the coming days.”

Ms Gault said there are still concerns within the industry.

“There are a number of concerns at this juncture, amongst them the exact length of the closure, the lack of support and the well-being of staff."

She said while many businesses closed, others will pull the shutters down over the coming days.

“The short notice of closure and difficulty ascertaining the exact nature of such a development has presented a real challenge for the hotel sector,” she said.

“A number of hotels have already made the decision to close today with others shutting up shop after the weekend.

“Approximately 85 per cent of Northern Ireland’s hotel bedrooms were back in market by mid August, opting to return to trade after the lockdown.”

Ms Foster said hotels could remain open on a restricted basis for certain groups of customers including those already resident and "providing services for those requiring them for work-related purposes, including staff on the front line battling Covid as well as vulnerable people, those in emergency situations and people unable to return to their main address”.

“The bars, however, in hotels should close,” she added.

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Northern Ireland news