Northern Ireland news

Reopening hospitality sector as planned 'would be appalling'

'Wet pubs' or drink-only pubs can re-open in NI tomorrow
Rebecca Black, Press Association

The Executive has been urged not to reopen the hospitality sector as planned.

Dr Tom Black, BMA Northern Ireland council chairman, has called for the current circuit break restrictions to be extended.

He said a return of the sector at this stage "would be appalling", describing it as "an act of careless vandalism" and called for a lockdown similar to England.

Hospitals across the north remain under pressure tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

There were 413 patients with Covid-19 being treated in hospital, with 51 in intensive care according to the Department of Health today. Read more

A further six Covid-19 linked deaths and 570 new cases of the virus were also notified.

First Minister Arlene Foster indicated at the weekend that the four-week restrictions will be eased on November 13, while Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said they would be "reviewed" at the end of the period.

Hospitality Ulster responded to Dr Black's comment, tweeting: "Government can not solve this crises alone, it will take partnerships with industry to find solutions to protect lives and livelihoods. Using language like 'vandalism', pitting lives against livelihoods helps no one."

Dr Black said he is concerned the health service could become overwhelmed.

"We are in the worst pandemic we'll ever see, in a second wave that is much worse than the first wave, with wards full, intensive care full and huge numbers of outbreaks in care homes," he told the BBC.

"It would inevitably result in our health service being overwhelmed, it would inevitably result in increased pain, suffering and death for our community.

"We can't have hospitality opening during a huge second wave in a pandemic, end of discussion.

"We need leadership from our executive, we've had dithering. We need clear decisions, we need firm action."

The Stormont Executive is set to meet later this week.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news