‘Constant narrative of health versus hospitality indefensible’ says Derry hotel lobbyist Janice Gault

Janice Gault, the Derry-born head of the Hotels Federation (NIHF), says the ‘constant narrative of health versus hospitality’ has been ‘indefensible’ throughout the COVID-19 emergency.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 11:57 am

She was speaking after the industry was finally given an indicative date for a return to business.

Yesterday the Executive agreed that hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses may be allowed to re-open from May 24.

This will be subject to further analysis of the data, the Executive said, with a formal review of the Coronavirus regulations under the Pathway out of Restrictions due on May 13, 2021.

NIHF CEO Janice Gault

Derry reopening to start from next week with Chamber chief describing return of retail as ‘very positive’ after a ‘tough four months’Ms. Gault said: “The hotel industry is going through one of the longest periods of lockdown, currently sitting at 111 days of business closure.

“We feel that we are often portrayed as part of the problem when in fact we are part of the solution. Hotels offer a safe, well-regulated and COVID-19 compliant environment

“The NIHF, on behalf of members, requested an opening date of no later than the May 17, 2021, to allow the industry to take advantage of the summer season, to satisfy staycation demand and stage weddings.

“Over 1,000 weddings will have been rescheduled, cancelled or staged in a scaled back and unsustainable manner.”

She said the announcement that restaurants, beer gardens, coffee shops and cafés can open outdoors on April 30 and potentially indoors from May 24, was welcome albeit a compromise position.

NI Executive agrees relaxations to Covid restrictions - The Details“The Executive’s decision acknowledges the economic contribution the hotel industry makes to wider society. Indeed, the sector has made a considerable investment ensuring that their premises and their operations are compliant with the regulations.

“The constant narrative of health versus hospitality is indefensible and sets out a binary argument for a situation that is considerably more nuanced and complex. Hotels that have been catering for key workers throughout have been adhering to regulations and protecting those who have been involved in the delivery of vital services. The sector has adapted to be able to do this safely.”