Message to Belfast: furlough ends next week! Nightclubs in Northern Ireland are STILL closed after Stormont advises no changes to restrictions – and no word on how they’re meant to pay the wages…

I’ve lived in Northern Ireland now for over a decade. Lovely place, but with seriously strange politicians arguing over decades old rows. One thing they all have in common, however, is a horrendous sense of entitlement to taxpayers money. Unionists republicans and every hue in between all share this trait.

And since Northern Ireland doesn’t raise enough in tax to cover its bills, the £10billion subsidy each year falls to Great Britain. They seem to think the pot is endless – and I can’t see any other reason to explain why nightclubs remain closed. But there’s a big problem on the immediate horizon.

The UK wide furlough scheme is due to end next Thursday. And there is absolutely no chance whatsoever this is going to be extended. The government in London has made increasingly clear it wants to move past this – not least because of the astronomical bills it has left behind.

So how are nightclubs in Northern Ireland meant to pay the wages of their staff from next month? Opening the doors to paying customers seems the most sensible option – but it’s not one they’re legally allowed to do. The Department of Health for the province has recommended nothing changes for now, citing major NHS pressures as the reason. And Stormont’s ministers haven’t gone against this advice in the past.

Savings for these nightclubs will be much reduced, if not entirely depleted by now. Stormont has yet to explain exactly how they’re meant to pay the bills without furlough or being allowed to actually open…

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