Bar owners in Northern Ireland face imminent “catastrophe” because of Covid-19, publicans’ representatives said.
Financial support must be given to businesses which are forced to close, Colin Neill from Hospitality Ulster said.
He met Stormont first minister Arlene Foster and deputy first minister Michelle O’Neill on Monday.
First Minister and deputy First Minister met representatives of @HospUlster to discuss challenges for the hospitality industry dealing with the impact of Covid-19.
They agreed that protecting people is paramount and are committed to working together as the situation develops pic.twitter.com/hKfd6T9LmR
— NI Executive (@niexecutive) March 16, 2020
Mr Neill said: “The meeting was constructive and they are fully aware that the sector is facing catastrophe in the coming days and weeks.
“There is no doubt that they, and the wider Executive, understand just how grave this situation is, and that we simply don’t have time to see how things might pan out.”
The industry body chief executive said there was “unilateral” agreement that protecting staff was of paramount importance.
He added: “We have made it clear that if there is any decision by the government to close businesses in the hospitality sector, that it must be done with a financial package that allows our staff to put food on their tables and that they have jobs to return to.
“As a sector, we continue to play a responsible role and will ensure that we adhere to all government guidance and public health authority advice.”