East Antrim hoteliers welcome announcement premises can reopen next month

Staff in the hospitality industry have welcomed the announcement that hotels across east Antrim can reopen to the public on July 20.

Wednesday, 3rd June 2020, 12:17 pm
Corr's Corner Hotel. Pic by Google.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds confirmed that hotels and tourist accommodation would be allowed to reopen if the coronavirus infection rate remains at an acceptable level.

Hotels across the province faced uncertainty after closing their doors in March at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Welcoming this week’s announcement, Kirsty Fallis operations manager at Dobbins Inn in Carrickfergus, said: “We are delighted to now have a date and are looking forward to welcoming guests back to the hotel.

Ballygally Castle. Pic by Google.

“It is welcome news for our staff too, who have been at home during the pandemic. We are in the hospitality industry and meeting and greeting people and looking after customers is what we do.

“The lockdown has impacted on a lot of people’s mental health and getting a date has been very positive.

“We still need clarification from the council or government about what we’re allowed to serve and what guests can do at our hotel.”

Kirsty added: “We are going to have to put some procedures in place and have sanitiser located around the hotel. The way people check-in and how they get access to their room will also change.

Dobbins Inn. Pic by Google.

“Between now and July 20 we will be conducting deep cleans and erecting two metre social distancing signage around the hotel. A lot of people have been in touch about bookings.

“I think there will be a lot of ‘staycations’ this year. People are being cautious and there is still uncertainty about where they can travel to.

“The safety of our guests and staff is our priority and we will be following all available guidelines from the government.”

Jonny Bailie, general manager at Corr’s Corner Hotel, said the announcement was “music to the ears of a lot of staff”.

He added: “It is brilliant news. We have received a good bit of feedback from customers enquiring about bookings.

“We have always been very focused on hygiene and health and safety and we will put strict Covid-19 cleaning measures into place.

“We have five hotels and we will be following social distancing regulations and will have one-way systems in our hotels until social distancing is relaxed.

“The announcement has given us something to aim for and it is amazing to have a date. I am delighted to welcome the team back.

“Staff and customers are at the forefront of everything we do and their health and safety is paramount.”

Howard Hastings, managing director of Hastings Hotels group which includes Ballygally Castle Hotel on the Antrim coast, has warmly welcomed the decision.

Dr Hastings said: “I am very pleased that Minister Dodds, who has been working closely with hospitality industry bodies, has presented compelling evidence to the Executive in order to confirm this reopening date.

“This allows time for families to make their holiday plans with confidence this summer. It also allows hotels time to prepare for guests and at the same time comply with the social distancing and additional hygiene regulations that will be required.

“We are aware that this season will be unlike any other. With so few flights coming to Ireland from Great Britain and overseas, there will not be the usual influx of visitors on escorted coaches.

“We will not see cruise liners in Belfast Lough, and we cannot expect the conferences, concerts and sporting events which generate so many room nights in a normal year.

“That said, people on the island of Ireland spend £4 billion annually on overseas summer holidays, and we are delighted to have the opportunity that now exists to persuade them to try somewhere new, at home. There has never been a better time.”


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