Retail NI and Belfast Chamber Discuss High Street Recovery with First and deputy First Ministers

Retail NI and Belfast Chamber met with the First and deputy First Ministers last night to discuss Covid-19, high street recovery and the wearing of face coverings.

Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts and Belfast Chamber Chief Executive Simon Hamilton said:

“This was a positive meeting with the First and deputy First Ministers at which our two organisations outlined a number of ideas on progressing high street renewal, overall economic recovery and the wearing of face coverings”

“In addition, we put forward the need for the establishment of a multi departmental High Streets Taskforce, working with Councils and business to regenerate our high streets and city centres, rebuild our retail sector and to plan for office-based workers to safely return to their place of work.  Retail is our biggest employer and a major part of towns and cities across the region. It faces a huge number of challenges and we need to address those now so that our sector can continue to significantly contribute to our local economy”.

“Retail NI and Belfast Chamber also had a very useful discussion with the Ministers on the wearing of face coverings.  We impressed upon the First Minister and deputy First Minister the concerns expressed by many of our members that, whilst they are keen to continue to do all that they can to beat Covid-19, the retail sector is still in a fragile place – we need to be careful that we don’t damage the recovery and all impacts of any decision on wearing face coverings must be carefully considered.

“Retailers have invested considerable amounts of money in making their shops safe for staff and customers and would be more than willing to work with the Executive on a campaign to increase the voluntary wearing of face coverings, but we made clear to the First Minister and deputy First Minister our concern that their mandatory wearing could adversely affect trade and generate serious issues around enforcement. 

“Slowly but surely our high streets and city centres are beginning to recover so it is essential that we ensure that nothing is done which would discourage shoppers from returning to them.”

Glyn Roberts 07515710517

Simon Hamilton 07741098060