UKHospitality has welcomed a decision by prime minister Boris Johnson to lift virtually all remaining Covid-19 restrictions in England from July 19th.
Under the plans, venues will be able to return to full capacity, night clubs will reopen as sports stadiums will be able to welcome larger crowds.
Following announcement Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “This announcement marks a major milestone in how England will come to live with Covid and will be celebrated by hospitality business owners and their staff across the country.
“For the vast majority of hospitality businesses, July 19th – if confirmed next week – will be the first time in 16 months that they have been able to realistically look to break even and move towards profitability.
“This progress is testament to the constructive and positive work that we have undertaken with government, to pave the way for this timely handing over of responsibility, shifting from enforced legal requirements to an onus on personal and business responsibilities, to ensure that we continue to safeguard our staff and customers in the tried and tested ways we know work best.”
Johnson said a final decision on taking the final step out of lockdown will be taken on July 12th, but this is seen as a virtual formality.
Nicholls added: “Hospitality businesses will continue to provide safe and enjoyable experiences as we move into the summer and beyond and, in doing so, will also safeguard jobs, livelihoods and the venues we cherish so much.
“In order to do so, venues will need autonomy to act according to their own risk assessments, without local authority gold-plating, and a workable test and trace system that does not demand blanket self-isolation like the test to remain-style system, to ensure that we can both protect our staff but trade with sufficient teams.
“It comes as welcome news that hospitality venues will soon be able to cast off the restrictions that have heavily constrained them commercially.
“However, the sector has been at the forefront of developing and implementing health and safety measures and initiatives throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so, in order to trade back to prosperity and help drive the national recovery.
“It will still be a long road back for businesses that have been forced to take on debt just to survive, especially with the reintroduction of business rates payments.
“Nevertheless, this is a critical move that will unleash a sector that is eager to play its part in the wider national recovery, to repay the support afforded it by the government.”
Image: Unsplash – Louis Hansel