COVID Certification: Licensed Premises

Oral Answers to Questions — Economy – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 6 December 2021.

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Photo of Pat Catney Pat Catney Social Democratic and Labour Party 2:30, 6 December 2021

T1. Mr Catney asked the Minister for the Economy, having just come from a meeting of a task force that the Minister set up to regenerate the high street, of which more businesspeople must become members, to state what his Department has done to tackle the incorrect information that has been sent to licensed premises about their liability and the risk of legal action if they do not enforce the rules on domestic COVID certificates. (AQT 1861/17-22)

Photo of Gordon Lyons Gordon Lyons DUP

I am not aware of what the Member is referring to, but, if he wants to illuminate it for me, I will be more than happy to look in to that.

Photo of Pat Catney Pat Catney Social Democratic and Labour Party

Owners of licensed premises have written to me to inform me that they have received threatening letters from your Department about not enforcing the rules. I am not sure whether that is 100% correct, but all help should be given to licensed premises so that they can open safely, in accordance with the rules as laid down. Minister, do you agree that the only way in which to keep those businesses open this Christmas is to do all that we can to prevent the spread of the virus, including promoting the roll-out of booster vaccines and the full use of domestic COVID certificates?

Photo of Gordon Lyons Gordon Lyons DUP

First, I am not aware of any threatening letters having been sent out by my Department. I am more than happy to —

Photo of Gordon Lyons Gordon Lyons DUP

I do not think that you can come in; this is Question Time rather than a debate. I am more than happy to speak to the Member afterwards. If he gives me some evidence of that, I would be more than happy to look in to the matter.

We should do all that we can to prevent the spread of the virus. I have set out quite clearly my position on COVID certification. I look at the evidence and what has happened elsewhere. I look at other jurisdictions that have not taken that proposal any further because of the lack of evidence that it has worked. That is my position. I recognise the concerns that the hospitality industry has expressed, and I want to do everything that I can to help that sector.