Commenting on rumoured reopening dates for some businesses in NI, Belfast Chamber Chief Executive Simon Hamilton said, “After pleading with the Executive for weeks to set reopening dates, there is anguish and upset that rumoured reopening dates which have appeared in the media this morning fall far short of what was hoped for and in fact defy the Executive’s own pledge to be data driven.

Our health data has been improving dramatically in recent weeks to the point where we are comparable with GB or even better in some instances. In England this week, we’ve seen outdoor hospitality reopen yet the same businesses here will have to wait a month. Why is it proposed to give indoor hospitality nothing better than a flaky indication of no earlier than 1 June when indoor hospitality in England will reopen weeks before that.

Why, as is suggested, will a wedding reception be able to be held with 30 people in mid-May yet any of the attendees will not be able to have a meal in a restaurant until some time in June? Why can we not have a coffee outside a coffee shop until mid-May yet we can get our hair cut or have a driving lesson weeks previously? Not only are these suggested dates not data driven, they also appear to defy logic.

Ministers told us that they would be data driven. These rumoured reopening dates make a mockery of that. We hope and trust that the Executive will give these issues careful consideration when it meets today and, as Ministers have pledged, they will be data driven and allow businesses, many of whom are in utter despair, better hope than this. If these dates are confirmed, then some hospitality businesses have told us directly that they simply will not survive until some unknown date in June when they can reopen”.