BUSINESSES across Tyrone have been left in limbo after the NI Executive’s inability to make a timely decision about the Covid-19 restrictions.
The Executive is due to meet for a fourth day in a bid to reach agreement on the current laws governing the restrictions, which are due to expire at midnight tonight (Thursday).
Yesterday, Health Minister Robin Swann tabled a proposal to extend all the coronavirus restrictions by one week, but this was blocked after the DUP triggered a cross-community vote, effectively giving them a veto over the plan.
An earlier proposal for a further two-week extension of the restrictions was also blocked by the DUP, despite support for the move by a majority of Executive parties.
DUP Economy Minister Diane Dodds had tabled separate proposals to allow close contact services and unlicensed premises to reopen from tomorrow, but this plan was voted down by a majority of ministers.
Business owners have been left frustrated after the delay in making a decision, and some have been forced to remain closed this weekend, even if they are allowed to reopen.
Omagh publican, Colm Broderick, who owns Broderick’s Bar on George’s Street, said he would not be reopening his bar tomorrow (Friday).
Mr Broderick, who is also the current president of Omagh Chamber of Commerce, said, “It is total chaos at the minute.
“I have taken the decision that I cannot open tomorrow (Friday).
“I can’t mess staff about like this and expect them to be ready to work at the weekend, and the stock will not be here in time now for Friday.
“There is a fear factor out there – the general public are worried and they don’t know if we are open or not and they are staying away.
“I made the choice that I am staying closed for now.
“I hope common sense prevails. I think the beauty industry are being extremely impacted by these closures and I really hope they get the go-ahead to reopen.
“They have been rescheduling appointments, and now they will have to reschedule again,” added Mr Broderick.
On Tuesday night, Stormont ministers were warned by the North’s Chief Medical Officer that more people would die if Covid-19 restrictions were not extended for a further two weeks.
The Health Minister also brought forward a paper which made it very clear there should be an extension of the current restrictions for another two weeks to reduce the spread of the virus and its impact on society.