2 of Belfast’s best pubs have closed down with 100 job losses

The Duke of York and the Harp Bar are to remain closed for the “foreseeable future”.

Two popular Belfast city centre pubs, The Duke of York and the Harp Bar, are to remain closed for the “foreseeable future”.

The closure of these establishments will mean the loss of up to 100 jobs of both part-time and full-time staff.

A spokesperson for Commercial Court Inns, the company that operates both pubs, stated,

“It is with a heavy heart that we confirm that The Duke of York and Harp Bar will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

“Despite our best efforts, we have been unable to find an economically viable way to reopen these iconic venues, which were built for convivial conversation, craic and live music in close quarters.”

In a social media post on the Duke of York Twitter page, the business left a hopeful message for Belfast:

“The light at the end of our tunnel seems distant now but these city lights will shine again, brighter than ever before. The spirit of this great city will prevail. Belfast will emerge stronger. Better. Brighter.”

“We will meet again. We know where, just not when (again).”

The pandemic has had a devastating impact on Northern Ireland’s hospitality industry

Credit: Instagram / @harpbarbelfast

Restrictions put in place due to the Coronavirus pandemic have caused major difficulties for many Belfast pubs and the hospitality industry as a whole over the past months.

Non-essential businesses throughout Northern Ireland were closed from late March during the first wave of the pandemic.

While many businesses, including hotels, restaurants, cafes, and pubs that serve food, were able to re-open on 3 July due to a fall in infection rates, ‘wet pubs’, which do not serve food, were not permitted to re-open until 23 September.

A recent rise in infection rates has seen the introduction of new Stormont regulations, which demands that pubs, hotel bars, and restaurants throughout Northern Ireland must shut at 11 pm.

Further restrictions for the festive period

The effects of the pandemic have had a devastating impact on Northern Ireland’s hospitality sector and things don’t look set to get any easier as Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill has declared that further restrictions are to be discussed during the Executive’s meeting this Thursday.

Ms O’Neill said she wanted to avoid a “circuit breaker”, which has been called a “lockdown in all but name”, but she says, “unfortunately it appears they are going to be necessary”.

The measures will no doubt cause increasing difficulty for more Belfast pubs and Northern Ireland’s hospitality industry in the run up to what would normally be their busiest period.

Northern Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride, has urged the importance of keeping families safe this festive period. He said,

“I think we do need to work very diligently to make sure that the Christmas period can be a safe period for families and the interactions that all we associate with that time of year.”

“I think it’s very safe to say that Christmas will be very different from previous years because we still will have many of the restrictions in place that we currently have if not further restrictions at that time.”

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