Belfast Chamber Reacts To Executive Lockdown Decision

Reacting to tonight’s decision by the Northern Ireland Executive to place many businesses across the region into lockdown, Belfast Chamber Chief Executive Simon Hamilton said, “Business absolutely understands the gravity of the situation with COVID-19 and fully appreciates the need for action. However, there is real anger tonight that the Executive’s new lockdown decision will inevitably have a catastrophic effect on jobs and livelihoods. Many businesses have said to me that they feel they’d have been far better off being told they’d have to remain closed for this long weeks ago rather than being repeatedly given reopening dates that haven’t been realised. Their trust in this Executive is now at rock bottom.

The decision to close retail is probably the biggest boost to online shopping in Northern Ireland since the invention of the internet. It cannot be understated what damage a decision to close shops at this time will do to jobs. Stores might now have to close but Amazon will not. 

Businesses are sympathetic to the fact that the Executive have taken steps to try to save lives. What they now want to see is a strategy to save jobs. That means much more financial support getting a lot faster to affected businesses and a plan to save our city centre. The businesses affected by the Executive’s new lockdown now need a multi-million pound rescue and support package or else our high streets will be devastated and we will see unfathomable job losses. Ministers need to step up and support these businesses and their staff”.