Commenting on confirmation by the Economy Minister Diane Dodds MLA that she has submitted papers to the Executive with proposed dates for the reopening of large aspects of the economy, Belfast Chamber Chief Executive Simon Hamilton said, “The confirmation by the Economy Minister that she has submitted a paper to Ministerial colleagues with proposals to reopen the economy is very welcome news. The Minister is right that businesses need not only the hope that reopening dates offer but also the ability to prepare properly. Businesses that have been closed now since Boxing Day desperately need to reopen but they also need sufficient notice so that they can buy in stock and bring staff back from furlough and dates will give them some certainty to plan ahead.  

Businesses have been calling for a proper, timetabled reopening plan and this proposal offers the possibility of achieving that. Warnings about the impact that protracted lockdowns will have on jobs and the economy have been powerfully and consistently made by the local business community.  Hopefully, the other parties in the Executive support the Minister’s proposals and agree to reopen shops, close contact services and the hospitality, leisure and tourism sector and give us the best possible chance of averting a serious jobs crisis”.