Northern Ireland's £100 'Spend Local' voucher scheme opens for applications
Applications for a high street voucher scheme have opened in Northern Ireland in a bid to support businesses impacted by the pandemic.
Anyone aged 18 or over can apply for a £100 ‘Spend Local' card, to be used in hospitality or retail businesses before 30 November.
Around 1.4m people living in Northern Ireland are eligible for the scheme, which is designed to encourage people to spend money on the high street prior to the busy Christmas period.
Economy minister Gordon Lyons (pictured) tweeted that 475,081 applications had been received after the programme opened.
Yesterday, the Northern Irish executive ended the legal requirement for social distancing in retail and indoor visitor attractions and indoor seated venues such as cinemas, though face coverings remain compulsory.
Social distancing rules are still in place for hospitality businesses, though ministers said this will be reconsidered next week.
Hospitality Ulster chief executive Colin Neill said: "The increase in capacity at indoor seated venues, is a small but pragmatic and positive step forward by the Executive.
"As the executive reconvenes next week we encourage ministers to maintain this pragmatic approach and address the needs of the hospitality sector with the removal of punitive restrictions, such as social distancing and all seated inside.
"As the high street voucher scheme opens, the sector must be afforded all opportunities to capture its fair share of the spend, which will not be possible if restrictions limiting capacity remain."