Minister visits town as restrictions eased
Economy Minister today (Friday, April 30) hailed the reopening of retail, outdoor hospitality and some tourism accommodation “as another significant milestone as we move out of lockdown”.
The Minister spent time in Portadown meeting traders and shoppers as retail outlets were among the services re-opening today under the recent Coronavirus guidelines. She also revealed further details on the High Street Stimulus scheme (HSS) which will provide eligible applicants with a pre-paid card to the value of £100 to spend on their local high street.
She joined Glyn Roberts, the Chief Executive of Retail NI and Adrian Farrell of the town’s Chamber of Commerce. They spent time visiting retailers about the experience of trading after lockdown. This included a visit to Orchard Bridal Shop where she met bride-to-be Christine van Schalkwyk and heard from owner Neil Anderson.
She visited a number of other outlets including Robert Davidson School Wear, Kabra, Ivan Jameson Outfitters, Out Haus and JR McMahon
The Minister then visited the Seagoe Hotel in the Armagh town where she joined Janice Gault of the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation to view the measures it has taken to reopen its outdoor spaces to customers.
She said: “The reopening of our economy has started in earnest and I was delighted to spend time today in Portadown to see retail outlets alongside outdoor hospitality, self-contained tourism accommodation, swimming pools and gyms begin trading again under the latest Coronavirus guidelines.
“After a long winter, we can now look forward. Shoppers are now back in our high streets, customers are once again enjoying outdoor hospitality and we are seeing the return of holidaymakers to self-contained accommodation. We still have much ground to cover but economic recovery is on the horizon and the reopening of so much our economy today is most important step towards it.
“Northern Ireland takes another step towards normality today. It is vital that this momentum is maintained. Every one of us can play our part by following the guidance to ensure a safe as well as an enjoyable experience.”
The Minister revealed further details on the High Street Stimulus (HSS) and Holiday at Home Voucher schemes which will boost economic recovery.
She said: “The High Street Stimulus and Holiday at Home Voucher schemes will provide a timely boost to our economic recovery. The HSS will provide eligible applicants with a pre-paid card to the value of £100 which will deliver a much-needed cash injection of over £140m to boost retail, hospitality and other sectors. And the Holiday at Home Voucher scheme will allow Northern Ireland households to claim back 50% off a stay of two nights or more in certified accommodation, up to the value of £100. Vouchers will also be issued, offering 50% off visits to attractions or tourism experience providers, up to the value of £20.”
Earlier in the day, the Minister visited Victoria Square in Belfast. She was joined by Simon Hamilton, Chief Executive of Belfast Chamber of Commerce, as they met with retailers and business owners as they welcomed customers back after three months.