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SITUATION CRITICAL | Ballymena pubs need cash flow to stop doors closing permanently

Stephen Reynolds (Front Page Bar)

After 23 weeks of lockdown, Ballymena’s local Publicans are sending a message to the NI Executive - “SAVE OUR PUBS”. Feeling unjustly left behind and financially forgotten, traditional pub owners want to be able to open their doors in September or receive a new Government support financial package.

The last weeks have seen food pubs, restaurants, cafes, and hotels, across N. Ireland bustling and enjoying the much needed upturn in trade with the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ incentive scheme.

However for the owners of traditional ‘wet-led’ pubs in the province, they have support the Government’s help to elements of Hospitality industry, but it has been a frustrating time as they’ve watched from the sidelines of their closed businesses, unable to benefit from the boost and recovery from the last months of lockdown, and believe that they are getting left further behind.

Award winning The Front Page Bar, on Ballymoney Street, in Ballymena, is one such business for whom lockdown has been costly and detrimental. The bar has been serving the local community and supporting Ballymena’s economy for 30 years.

The popular pub’s owner, Stephen Reynolds, says that the situation is now critical for all traditional pubs across Northern Ireland. Without ringing cash tills for almost 6 months, rents and fixed charges for the businesses have continued, and the situation is no longer sustainable.

The well-known local businessman has been using the lockdown time in preparation and hope of a safe reopening. Stephen said: “COVID measures are in place and we are ready to go. Our staff have been trained and they are ready to go. Stock is in place and ready to go. We need the NI Executive to confirm that we will be permitted to open on 1 September 2020, and if not, then we need a financial support package NOW.”

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