Bars welcome plans to end Covid-19 restrictionsBy Melita Kiely
The on-trade in England has welcomed the news that all Covid-19 restrictions look set to end on 19 July, meaning business can resume as usual.
The final decision will be taken on 12 July, but it appears likely that plans will proceed as outlined by UK prime minister Boris Johnson yesterday (5 July).
In a televised speech to the nation yesterday, Johnson said citizens would have to use their personal judgement as the nation learns to live with the virus.
From 19 July, all venues currently closed will be able to reopen with no capacity limits, while physical distancing will end and face masks will no longer be mandatory. There will be no limits on gatherings.
In the UK, more than 79 million vaccine doses have been administered, with every adult having been offered at least one dose. 64% of adults have received two doses.
Furthermore, the government said it would accelerate the vaccine rollout further by reducing the vaccine dose interval for under 40s from 12 weeks to eight weeks. As such, every adult will have the opportunity to receive two doses by mid-September.
Johnson said: “I want to stress from the outset that this pandemic is far from over and it will certainly not be over by the 19th.
“We will continue to monitor the data and retain contingency measures to help manage the virus during higher risk periods, such as the winter. But we will place an emphasis on strengthened guidance and do everything possible to avoid re-imposing restrictions with all the costs that they bring.”
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UK Hospitality, said: “For the vast majority of hospitality businesses, 19th July – 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.
“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 doesn’t 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.”
Last month, SB explored the lingering rent crisis that is affecting bars worldwide.