Remove ALL restrictions on June 21 to save hospitality sector: Final stage of roadmap must include ‘unrestricted trading’ with no masks or limit on customers so firms can finally ‘come off life support’, industry expert says
- Social distancing rules will be ditched in England next month, reports suggest
- Will allow restaurants and theatres to open fully for first time in more than a year
- 1-way systems, screens and mask-wearing while moving around might remains
- But customer numbers will no longer be limited allowing larger groups to meet
Removing all Covid restrictions in the hard-hit hospitality sector from June 21 is ‘critical’ and will mean firms can ‘come off life support’, an industry chief has said.
Social distancing rules will be ditched next month to allow pubs, restaurants and theatres to open to full capacity with no limits on groups for the first time in more than a year, reports claim.
But one-way systems, screens and rules on mask-wearing while moving around might remain.
Audiences in theatres and cinemas will have to wear face coverings during performances, while there will be strict guidance on ventilation and staggered entry.
Kate Nicholls – chief executive of trade body UKHospitality – said reports of lifting limits on trading are ‘very welcome’ and will allow businesses to be ‘viable’ for the first time in nearly 16 months.
But she said Britons must ‘wait to see the full detail of plans as any restrictions in venues will continue to impact revenue and business viability’.
Millions of people have already flocked to pubs and restaurants since many opened for business again earlier this month, with experts reporting drink sales up 114 per cent compared with the same period in 2019.
The reopening of outdoor hospitality is a boost for the sector, which has lost £74 billion since last March.
A return to unrestricted trading for hospitality from June 21 is ‘critical’ and will mean firms can ‘come off life support’, an industry chief has said (file image)
Reports of lifting restrictions comes as evidence that Covid has been stamped out in Britain is overwhelming.
The country’s hugely-successful vaccine drive – coupled with social distancing rules – has meant just one in 1,000 people in England now have Covid, and the R rate is still below 1.
But on Sunday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said ‘some safeguards’ may stay in place when legal restrictions end, such as continued use of masks and physical distancing.
Last month, Government scientific advisers said the public should be able to remove face masks over the summer as vaccines do the heavy lifting in controlling Covid-19.
But they cautioned that masks and possibly other measures may be needed next autumn and winter if cases surge.
Responding to the report in The Times, Ms Nicholls added: ‘These reports are very welcome if true.
‘However, we must wait to see the full detail of plans as any restrictions in venues will continue to impact revenue and business viability.
‘A return to unrestricted trading on June 21 is critical and will mean hospitality businesses (can) come off life support and be viable for the first time in almost 16 months.
‘We urge the Government to confirm reopening dates and these plans at the earliest opportunity, which will boost confidence and allow companies to step up planning and bring staff back.’
Millions of people have already flocked to pubs and restaurants since many opened for business again last Monday, with experts reporting drink sales up 114 per cent compared with the same period in 2019 (stock image)
A Cabinet Office spokesman pointed back to the wording of the road map out of lockdown, which states that the Government ‘will complete a review of social distancing measures and other long-term measures that have been put in place to limit transmission’.
The review’s findings ‘will help inform decisions on the timing and circumstances under which rules on one-metre-plus, face masks and other measures may be lifted’.
It comes as the Government announced the limit on the number of mourners who can attend funerals is to be lifted in England.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said the legal restriction of a maximum of 30 mourners will be removed as part of the next stage of lockdown easing, expected on May 17.
The capacity will be determined by how many people venues, such as places of worship or funeral homes, can safely accommodate while maintaining social distancing, the department added.
And as of mid-April, staycations were allowed to resume giving Britain’s travel industry a much-needed shot in the arm.
The news provided a welcome boost for the sector, with companies seeing an increase in website traffic before the PM had even finished his address.
Staycation giant Awaze, the owner of UK self-catering company Cottages.com, said it sold a record 10,000 breaks after Boris Johnson announced his roadmap in February – recording one booking every second.
Pitchup.com, meanwhile, took one booking every seven second in 24 hours.
Meanwhile, MPs in the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coronavirus have urged the Government to ‘discourage all international leisure travel’ amid concerns around the danger of importing new variants to the UK, which they said could ‘lead to further lockdowns, and inevitably, further loss of life’.
Thomas Cook chief executive Alan French said there has been ‘great progress’ in countries such as Portugal and Spain in preparing for the return of holidaymakers and that he expects most popular destinations, particularly in Europe, to be open to travellers.
The ban on foreign holidays is expected to be lifted for people in England from May 17 as part of the next easing of coronavirus restriction.
As it stands, less than two-fifths of venues in the UK have outside space but 41,100 pubs, bars and restaurants in England have opened so far.
Businesses in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are due to follow suit later this month.
People enjoyed their time at the nightclub in Liverpool as part of a national research programme assessing the risk of the coronavirus disease transmission on Saturday
One reveller drinks from a bottle of wine as she sits on someone’s shoulders during the rave at The First Dance in Liverpool
A crowd of ravers are pictured in Bramley-Moore Dock, Liverpool, during a nightclub rave test event
People enjoy themselves on the dance floor at Bramley-Moore Dock warehouse in Liverpool
According to a study by trade body UKHospitality, 65 per cent of businesses now feel optimistic about the next 12 months as the country continues its path out of lockdown.
Just 16 per cent pessimistic about remaining financially viable for at least another year.
The survey of 110 firms, which run 8,400 venues, found they expected turnover to be just 29 per cent of regular trade while customers are only allowed to eat and drink outside.
From mid-May – when venues can admit customers inside under the rule of six – they expect to reach 56 per cent of normal turnover, rising to more than 80 per cent when restrictions are scheduled to end from June 21.
Publicans Lee and Jenni Wilson-Hart, who run The Greyhound Inn in the Peak District village of Warslow, said: ‘We have been very busy and we are 90 per cent booked up for the next three weeks.
‘All of our customers feel grateful that we are open, saying that the pub provides strength and stability within the community. The pub is once again ringing with the buzz of conversation and good times.’
Thousands of fans who didn’t need to socially distance or wear masks packed Sefton Park for the post-Covid trial event headlined by Blossoms earlier this month
The Lathums got the night underway giving fans a taste of normality after months of lockdown and coronavirus restrictions
But not all pubs have been so lucky, with just 41,100 – or 38.2 per cent – having outdoor space, according to overall data.
Only 33.1 per cent of operators in London have space they can use outside and only 22.9 per cent of venues in Scotland – which will see sites reopen from April 26 – have outdoor areas.
Earlier this month, thousands of music fans flooded Liverpool’s Sefton Park to attend the UK’s first post-lockdown gig in a trial to see what the country’s return to normality will look like.
In total 5,000 fans were permitted to attend the gig and were not required to wear masks or socially distance during the event.
The line-up included indie band Blossoms, The Lathums and Liverpool singer-songwriter Zuzu and the event forms part of the national Events Research Programme (ERP).
Ticketholders took a Lateral Flow Test at a community testing site 24 hours before the event and had to produce a negative result to gain entry.
Attendees then had to take another test five days after the event as part of the ERP’s research.
Music fans in Sefton Park Liverpool, for tonight’s concerts by bands including Blossoms, who were enjoying a taste of life after coronavirus restrictions
Revellers arriving for a trial music festival in Sefton Park in Liverpool which will be headlined by the indie band Blossoms as part of the national Events Research Programme (ERP)
Concert-goers wait to dance to music at the venue for the latest event in the government’s Events Research programme, a live music concert hosted by Festival Republic
A similar event was carried out in Liverpool’s Bramley-Moore Dock warehouse this weekend.
Thousands of revellers danced shoulder-to-shoulder at Britain’s second post-lockdown rave at a Liverpool nightclub on Saturday.
Nightlife promoter Circus hosted The First Dance in Liverpool – where revellers do not have to wear face coverings or social distance.
Inside the venue, footage showed ravers dancing mask-free, inches away from each other as headliner Fat Boy Slim played his set.
One night prior, club-goers were seen hugging and kissing each other, with some sitting on others’ shoulders for a better view of the stage, where DJ Yousef, Lewis Boardman and The Blessed Madonna performed.
Ravers had to take a lateral flow test 24 hours before the event in order to release their e-ticket, and have to produce a negative result to gain entry.
They were then asked to take another test five days after the rave and submit the results.
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