AS he closed his Ballymena pub for at least another four weeks after new covid restrictions were introduced by the Executive at 6pm on Friday evening, Stephen Reynolds said he was “devastated”.
Mr Reynolds, owner of The Front Page pub in Ballymena, told ‘Ballymena Daily’ it was a “dark, dark, day, for hospitality in Northern Ireland”.
He added: “We never thought it would come to this. We are not that very long open again, five or six weeks later we are closed again,.
“They are saying four weeks, they told us that before, I’m not optimistic.
“In fact I am not optimistic about the future of pubs in Northern Ireland. This is our heritage, this is our tradition, the Ulster pub/the Irish pub, call it what you like, we are in danger of losing our heritage and our tradition here. Sad, sad, day,” he said.
He was speaking as pubs, restaurants and cafes across Northern Ireland closed their doors to sit-in customers at 6pm on Friday under stricter Covid-19 restrictions.
Hair and beauty salons also have to shut and gyms face additional measures for the next four weeks too.
It also emerged on Friday that driving instructors will be taken off the road.
Hairdressers and beauty salons were busy trying to get cleared up for 6pm.
There had been reports of queues outside some hairdressers in Ballymena.
Some town centre streets in Ballymena were busy with traffic around 5.30pm as it seemed many people were trying to cram in activities before the 6pm deadline.
Retail shops and supermarkets are still open and traders stress Ballymena town centre is very much open for business.