Pub­lic urged to ‘drink re­spon­si­bly’ as North pubs re­open

The Irish Times - - Home News - FREYA McCLEMENTS North­ern Cor­re­spon­dent

Ho­tels, cafes, restau­rants, and pubs serv­ing meals re­opened in North­ern Ire­land yes­ter­day in the lat­est eas­ing of its coro­n­avirus re­stric­tions.

Some vis­i­tor at­trac­tions were also al­lowed to re­open, along­side mu­se­ums, gal­leries and book­mak­ers.

Pubs and bars are re­quired to op­er­ate as restau­rants in­doors, serv­ing food to cus­tomers and do­ing so on a ta­ble ser­vice ba­sis only.

How­ever, those with out­door space, such as beer gar­dens, can serve al­co­hol in those ar­eas with no re­quire­ment for cus­tomers to or­der food.

Weekly data

So­cial dis­tanc­ing of one me­tre must be ob­served in all hos­pi­tal­ity busi­nesses.

Two fur­ther coro­n­avirus-re­lated deaths were re­ported by the Depart­ment of Health (DoH) in North­ern Ire­land yes­ter­day, bring­ing the to­tal num­ber to 554.

Four new cases of Covid-19 were also con­firmed. A to­tal of 5,747 cases of the dis­ease have now been iden­ti­fied in North­ern Ire­land since the out­break there be­gan.

The weekly data on coro­n­avirus-re­lated deaths pub­lished by the North­ern Ire­land Statis­tics and Re­search Agency (Nisra) yes­ter­day showed there were nine deaths in­volv­ing Covid-19 in the North in the week end­ing June 26th.

The to­tal num­ber of coro­n­avirus-re­lated fa­tal­i­ties recorded by Nisra up un­til June 26th was 826, ap­prox­i­mately 33 per cent higher than the fig­ure noted by the DoH for the same pe­riod, which was 550.

As the hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor re­opened, the North’s Min­is­ter for Health, Robin Swann, ap­pealed to the pub­lic to “drink and act re­spon­si­bly” and to fol­low pub­lic health guid­ance at all times.

“I am not out to spoil any­one’s en­joy­ment. How­ever, I have to re­mind ev­ery­one once again that the threat from Covid-19 is still very much with us.

“We are all fa­mil­iar with the phrase: ‘When the drink’s in, the wit’s out.’ I hope and trust this will not be the case in North­ern Ire­land,” he said.

In­dus­try body Hos­pi­tal­ity Ul­ster wel­comed the re­open­ing of the hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor and said busi­nesses and cus­tomers must abide by the guide­lines.

Re­duced ca­pac­ity

“We know that peo­ple have been stuck in their homes for al­most 15 weeks and many will be keen to visit their favourite res­tau­rant or pub when they re­open,” said its chief ex­ec­u­tive,

Colin Neill. How­ever, he said cus­tomers should ex­pect some changes due to re­duced ca­pac­ity and re­stric­tions that meant that “food pubs must op­er­ate like restau­rants in­doors, non-food pubs [are] re­stricted to out­doors only, and some, as yet, un­able to re­open”.

He added: “I would ad­vise cus­tomers to plan in ad­vance to en­sure they are not dis­ap­pointed, and whilst busi­nesses will be mak­ing ev­ery ef­fort to en­sure their safety, cus­tomers must also take re­spon­si­bil­ity for en­sur­ing so­cial dis­tanc­ing to pro­tect staff and other cus­tomers,” he added.

He also called on the Ex­ec­u­tive to “ur­gently” give a re­open­ing date for non-food pubs which can­not cur­rently re­open.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: PAUL FAITH/ AFP/GETTY IM­AGES

Staff wear­ing face shields and gloves serve peo­ple en­joy­ing a drink in Belfast city cen­tre yes­ter­day as pubs re­opened.

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