Car dealers in Northern Ireland are facing yet another blow after a new six-week national lockdown was announced – with no click-and-collect allowed.
Stormont Executive ministers said last night (Dec 17) that non-essential retail must shut from December 26 for a month and a half, with a review after four weeks.
Dealerships had only just been allowed to reopen their doors after a circuit-breaker lockdown was brought in between November 27 and December 11. However, click-and-collect was at least permitted then, as reported by Car Dealer.
It’s among a wide range of restrictions that deputy first minister Michelle O’Neill, pictured at yesterday’s press conference, said were ‘draconian’ but ‘necessary’.
Essential shops will have to close by 8pm during the first week of the lockdown.
Contact services are having to shut, and the hospitality sector is being restricted to takeaway only.
No sporting events will be allowed in the first week, with the public being urged to stay at home.
O’Neill said that without the action, the health service would be ‘completely crushed’ by January.
‘Whilst this is draconian in many ways, it’s necessary, and this is about saving lives, this is about saving the health service and this is about taking some pressure off the health care staff,’ she told reporters at Stormont on Thursday evening.
‘We’ve never been in such a bad position as we are now and will be in January if this didn’t happen now.’
But it is feared the new lockdown will means thousands of jobs are lost.
Belfast Chamber said it recognised the severe pressure faced by the NHS and that there was a need for action as Covid-19 cases were still ‘stubbornly high’.
However, it added it was worth noting that cases stayed high while many retailers and hospitality businesses were closed.
Although he supported the decision to get the virus under control, Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, said: ‘This is the news that we have been dreading for some time.’
He added that the lockdown would ‘sound the death knell’ for many businesses that won’t be able to see through the period.
‘They won’t come out the other side and we are left counting the cost of an industry in tatters. The impact on the economy will run into the hundreds of millions, thousands of redundancies and a sector dead on its feet.’
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