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Source: Traditional Unionist Voice – Northern Ireland

Statement by TUV Jim Allister:

“The release yesterday of additional information from the Department Health which shows the evidence behind the Executive’s decision to shut down parts of our economy is welcome but the evidence raises more questions than it answers. It is understandable that many within the hospitality sector are angry and frustrated now that they can read the decision to close their business was in part based on “anecdotal reports”. We now know that Ministers were told that closing the hairdressing and beauty industry could potentially reduce the R number by “up to 0.05”. Small wonder that the evidence supporting the restrictions has been described as flimsy!

“How these figures were arrived at remains a mystery which is nowhere explained in the evidence we have.

“One of the most common complaints I hear from business is that they invested substantial sums in putting in place safety measures and followed the guidance to the letter only to find themselves closed regardless.

“This simply isn’t good enough. You cannot just turn sectors of the economy off and on like this. If the measures put in place – screens, PPE, social distancing and face coverings – are effective then those who defied the measures should be punished, not entire sectors of the economy.

“You cannot simply lecture the public and claim we only got where we are now because of the former regulations being disregarded by too many people. Seven months into the pandemic there is an onus on government to tell us more detail on how many cases have been traced back to the sectors which have been asked to close and what action has been taken against the offending businesses.

“Today I have tabled the following simple questions:

To ask the Minister of Health to detail the number of COVID-19 cases which can be linked to (i) hotels, (ii) restaurants, (iii) bed and breakfasts, (iii) barbers and hairdressers and (iv) beauticians broken down by council area.

To ask the Minister of Justice to detail the number of (i) hotels, (ii) restaurants, (iii) bed and breakfasts, (iii) barbers and hairdressers and (iv) beauticians which were prosecuted for breaches of the coronavirus regulations broken down by council area.

“The World Health Organisation are clear when it comes to lockdown – they are a tool only to be used when trying to buy sometime to scale up your health service provision. They are not a solution to Covid-19 but should only be used when other polices have failed to work. Indeed the evidence published yesterday makes this clear that the restrictions will have a physiological as well as a financial impact on those employed in the hospitality industry. It warns that the restrictions on the hair and beauty industry will disproportionately affect the poorest and women.

“For months we had politicians telling the public that we needed to listen to the WHO. Where are they now?

“If we had a big problem with drink driving in Northern Ireland we would not ban driving. We would demand action against the guilty. It’s time for the powers that be to explain why good, law-abiding businesses face bankruptcy after doing all that has been asked of them.”

MIL OSI United Kingdom