Trust in politicians running out as deadlock continues, business owner warns

By Michael McHugh, PA
·2-min read

Trust and patience in Northern Ireland’s divided politicians are running out, the owner of a beauty salon has warned.

Carly Bell runs Bellaire in Belfast city centre and has been trading for more than a decade.

She said the viability of all businesses is at stake if lockdown is not lifted as planned this week.

She warned: “Another extension would be devastating to Northern Ireland’s economy. Most businesses are on their knees already.

“Trust and patience are running out with politicians who only seem to have lockdown as a go-to measure to slow the infection rate, even though it has been proven (by their own studies) that close contact services contribute very little to the overall R number.”

She said her team of hair and beauty experts is like a huge family.

“We have, alongside the rest of close contact and hospitality, lost a further four weeks of business,” she said.

“Viability of all businesses in Northern Ireland is at stake, whilst business owners are under pressure with bills and overheads whilst shut.”

She said her business has spent a huge amount of money on personal protective equipment and other safety measures, and she urged politicians to find alternatives to lockdowns.

“If this is a sign of things to come then the economy will not recover, especially small, local business – while multinationals are allowed to open,” she said.

“I understand it’s a difficult situation but there are also massive effects to the community by shutting society down.

“Mental health, increased poverty, social disillusionment, to name a few.”

She said the risks of lifting lockdown are there no matter when it is eased.

“Cases will rise when it does, regardless.

“What is the Executive’s plan to mitigate that rise in cases when lockdown lifts, because it will lift eventually.

“There’s no justification for extending it if they are doing what they need to do and planning accordingly.

“We are almost a year into this pandemic, we have more information on this virus today that we have ever had.

“We need a better way to move forward.”