Northern Ireland Economy Minister Diane Dodds today (1 June 2020) announced plans to allow hotels and other tourist accommodation to re-open from 20 July.
Minister Dodds said:
“COVID-19 has presented an unprecedented challenge for our tourism industry, as it has for tourism markets around the world.
“I believe the time is right to provide the tourist accommodation sector with clarity about opening dates.
“I want to build upon the positive progress in managing the spread of the virus and begin to re-open our tourism industry in a safe and managed way.”
The key dates agreed by the Executive today for re-opening tourist accommodation are:
The Minister did stress, however, that progress on re-opening will depend on controlling the rate of transmission of the virus.
“These dates are conditional on the continued containment of the spread of COVID-19.”
Further work is underway to assess the potential to re-open pubs and restaurants and all other parts of the tourism sector.
The Minister continued:
“Tourist accommodation will operate in a new, and challenging, world when it begins to emerge from COVID-19.
“We need to enable businesses to plan ahead to ensure social distancing and hygiene practices are in place and staff are trained. These practices will also be essential to reassure customers and employees that establishments are COVID-19 safe.
“Enabling accommodation businesses to generate essential revenue will help to protect individuals and livelihoods which support families and communities across Northern Ireland.”
The Tourism Recovery Steering Group, which the Minister chairs, and its supporting Working Group, will take relevant UK safe working guidance and make it specific to NI as overarching tourism sector guidance. A safety charter mark is also being considered.
The proposals have been informed by engagement with the tourism industry through the Tourism Recovery Working Group.