Retail NI has expressed concern that the new regulations announced by the Executive on strict table service for all hospitality will make it near impossible for cafes and coffee shops within retail premises, to open on Monday.

Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

Lisburn city centre is back open for business and, with 11 new businesses opening and 7 being radically revamped - it’s better than ever!

Over the last few months, Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council (LCCC) has been working with local entrepreneurs to get their new and existing business ideas off the ground. The council’s Urban Investment Fund, delivered in partnership with the Department for Communities, has benefitted 18 local businesses in a bid to attract new visitors, boost the local economy and get Lisburn City centre buzzing again.

Retail NI, Lisburn Chamber and Newry Business Improvement District have jointly called upon the Infrastructure Minister to put an end to the on-street car parking charges in the two city centres.

The business groups are calling for the same one hour free on-street car parking schemes which other local towns and cities successfully operate.

In a joint statement Retail NI, Lisburn Chamber and Newry Bid said:

Commenting on the Executive’s decision to relax Covid-19 regulations, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

“It is to be welcomed that non-essential retail, close contact services and hospitality have at long last dates to reopen. This is a very significant step forward for the reopening of our high streets, our local economy and is fantastic news for thousands of local small businesses”

Commenting on on the resumption of Click and Collect and ahead of Thursday’s Executive meeting, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

“Restoring click and collect is a long overdue and welcome development, which I hope is a step towards the wider reopening of our high streets. It will provide a much-needed lifeline for many local independent retailers whose businesses are on their last legs”

Commenting on the Executive’s decisions to relax some Covid-19 restrictions, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

“It is to be welcomed that Click and Collect, which hopefully will provide a much-needed lifeline to those struggling independent retailers, is at long last to be restored”

Welcoming the Executive’s decision to provide a further one-year business rates holiday, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

“This is good news for both independent retailers and for our high streets”

“Retail NI is pleased that the Finance Minister has listened to our members’ concerns and extended the rates holiday for another year. This will provide much needed further support to our members as they begin to the long road towards recovery”

Commenting on the announcement by the Health Minister that essential retail and other key sectors will be able to access asymptomatic testing, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

“This is a welcome initiative, and we look forward to working with the Department of Health on its roll out”

‘However, its initial step only includes businesses with more than 50 employees, and this would clearly rule out most independent essential grocery retailers being able to avail of this testing programme”

Retail NI and Belfast Chamber has urged the Ministers for Finance and Economy to set up a lost footfall fund for town and city centre traders, who are open, but have dramatically lost footfall and trade as result of lockdown.

The two business groups have also called for the Executive to provide a full twelve-month rate relief from 1st April to support struggling traders.

The Chief Executives of Retail NI and Belfast Chamber, Glyn Roberts and Simon Hamilton said:

Reacting to the Chancellors UK Budget statement, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

“Overall, this Budget is a bit of a ‘Curate’s egg’ with a mixture of positive and not so positive measures for the business community in Northern Ireland”

“We welcome the extension of the Furlough scheme until the end of September, but with employers expected to contribute 10% which will rise to 20% in the summer, it does reinforce the need for the Executive to clarify the timescale of its ‘strategy’ of lifting restrictions and allowing businesses to reopen”