It is with great delight, and not a little relief, that we finally see restaurants, cafes, hotels and bars reopening their doors today after such a long closure. The hospitality sector can serve people inside their premises from today, in a covid safe manner of course.
Huge Amount Of Work Going On Behind The Scenes
There will have been a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes in all these premises to ensure that they can reopen today and so many business owners are asking the public to be patient with them and their staff whilst they get back into the swing of things and get everything back up and running once more. It will be table service only and all customers will be required to wear a mask whenever they leave their table. There will naturally be no live music or dancing.
Like Christmas Again
Speaking about the reopening to Belfast Live, Michael O’Connor, owner and chef of The Barking Dog in Belfast said:
“It is like Christmas all over again, staff have been in since Wednesday cleaning and painting the place and the chefs have been working away and are actually in today (Sunday) getting all the fresh stuff ready for tomorrow at 12pm.
“During the pandemic it has been horrible, just keeping the money in the bank account to pay the furlough and claim it back. I reckon in six months there will be no profit from the restaurant because we will just be paying back bills for things we owe.
“But it is good to be back, and we are just grateful to be back doing what we do best.
“I would like to ask if customers could please be patient with the staff, who haven’t been in their line of work for a long time and may be a wee bit slow to start off with. We are looking forward to serving people their cocktails but please be patient, we have been working hard to make sure we are up to speed and once we get going we will be thriving again in no time.”
A Huge Step For The Industry
In the same article Colin Neill of Hospitality Ulster said the reopening was a “huge step” for a sector that has been “on its knees” during the pandemic.
He said: “It is a huge step for the industry which has been on its knees now practically with traditional pubs being closed for 14 months more or less.
“It is a huge step forward but businesses are still under quite severe restrictions so we hope the majority will be able to get to some sort of sustainable level of trade, but until all regulations are gone, it will be some time before they are able to be profitable again with the huge debts they have got.”
I think we can all do our bit in supporting these businesses so that they can get back on their feet. The hospitality industry is such an important part of the Northern Ireland economy, especially on a local level, so to have these restrictions lifted is fantastic news for them and the wider public. We wish all of them the very best as they open up their doors.