The Northern Ireland Takeaway Association today (October 21) warned that the sector is facing devastation unless current restrictions preventing deliveries after 11pm are ended immediately.
Under the recent legislative restrictions delivery services must end by 11pm, resulting in losses, redundancies and potentially businesses being forced to close permanently.
A survey of members revealed that thousands of pounds are being lost every week, yet no financial aid is available.
“Members of the Takeaway Association are struggling as a result of this new restriction,” said Director, Michael Henderson.
“We have been there throughout the current crisis, providing an essential service, especially to the hard working key workers who often work irregular hours.
“Yet our members are being told we have to close at 11pm, for the first time since this began.”
The 11pm closing means for takeaways to get all orders out on time to customers with a high standard of food quality they would be limited to taking last orders around 9:45pm.
Mr Henderson said that in England, Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland no such restrictions are in place, even in the areas that are in the highest tier of lockdown.
“Previously the takeaway delivery trade were classed as essential workers which lead to the whole takeaway sector putting strict Covid-19 precautions in place spending hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of pounds to do so. By doing this the takeaway industry in Northern Ireland helped reduce the spread of Covid-19 with measures such as contactless deliveries and PPE equipment.”
Today the Takeaway Association has written to the Executive and MLAs to request that the 11pm delivery restrictions end in order to avoid damaging businesses. It has also sought urgent clarification to the financial package that may be offered that currently states ‘Cafe, pubs and restaurants that have been temporarily forced to close to limit their business to takeaway, delivery or outdoor service’.
Mr Henderson said that in response to a query from the Finance minister he was told that no financial aid was going to be made to the takeaway sector.
In an email to the NI Takeaway Association a colleague of Finance Minister Conor Murphy said: “I was speaking to the minister last night. He advised me that the legislation does not factor in takeaways firstly as they have not had to close, whereas restaurants and cafés do. In addition the legislation also deems them as not having lost as much custom through the legislation. The reduced delivery service is viewed as not being a hindrance to the businesses as there are no hospitality outlets (i.e bars and nightclubs) open and therefore the demand for takeaway food past 11pm is much lower than previously.”
Despite multiple attempts to meet with members of the Executive and several requests for clarification from the Executive press office Mr Henderson has said he no longer has a choice and must represent his members in the most public manner.
He added: “We were angered to learn that the attitude was that as takeaway and delivery services had been allowed to open previously they were not going to be included,” he said.
“Furthermore, it has been communicated to us that as hospitality outlets were not open the view was that takeaway and delivery services would not need to be available as there would not be any passing trade.
“This is preposterous, and the minister and the Executive should reconsider to allow the takeaway industry to continue to deliver past 11pm as a matter of priority.”
Mr Henderson also urged members to react quickly to the changing circumstances.
“We are advising everyone in the takeaway industry across Northern Ireland to spend valuable time assessing their offering and ensuring all their marketing materials are up to date and listings on online delivery platforms are current and showcase the best of your menu,” he said.
The association has created a consultation package for new and existing members can receive advice.
“From pivoting your business into takeaway, improving your current offering and human resources to legal, financial, marketing and advertising we have industry experts ready to help businesses overcome the challenges ahead,” he explained.
Members looking for further information on this and other related subjects members can contact Michael Henderson direct on 07425846533 or firstname.lastname@example.orgTo become a member go to >> https://www.nitakeawayassociation.co.uk/members-area