MLA Justin McNulty has said that much heralded and promised support for the hospitality, tourism and retail sectors has been too slow to materialise and has claimed that businesses will fold unless a sense of urgency is injected into the process.

It comes at a time when all local hotels and bars remain closed as part of the Governments Covid-19 response.

Local hospitality businesses remain closed for the foreseeable future. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
Local hospitality businesses remain closed for the foreseeable future. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

Mr McNulty said, "Our hospitality, tourism and much of the retail sector has been ordered to shut down and they have been promised various packages of support by the Executive none of which have materialised yet. These businesses have bills to pay, staff need wages and yet despite all the big announcements no cash has started to flow from Stormont.

"Our hospitality and tourism sectors have been decimated. Hotels, bars and restaurants have been ordered to shut their doors and have been promised grants of £25,000 with support for furloughed staff.  Small businesses have started to receive their £10,000 grants yet the support scheme for the hospitality and tourism sectors hasn’t even been opened for registration never mind making much needed payments.

"Businesses are contacting me crying out for help.  By their very nature, they depend on the peak season months to produce the majority their cash flow.  Christmas covers January, February and March before they tend to see a lift for April and May before people head off on holiday during June, July and August.  September is School Uniform month and October and November people are saving for Christmas where as December is their bonus.  Their margins are tight and balancing cashflow peaks and troughs is a critical element for the people leading these businesses. But this trough is not one any business could possibly have prepared for. That is why they need help now.

"We need to see a sea change in the way the Executive does things.  There is no point in announcing headline grabbing schemes if there is no follow through. Someone needs to take the lead.  If a scheme is announced, it needs to be operational within days not months.  We are reaching pinch point very fast, businesses have days not weeks to make the decision whether they will be able to reopen again. Their fates will most likely lie in the hands of the Executive and will depend on how swiftly our First and deputy First Minister respond."

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