At a new conference today (17 July) Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that Coronavirus restrictions will be eased further in England as part of the Government’s plans for the country to make a “significant return to normality” by Christmas.
As part of the announcement, Johnson said that most leisure options that currently remain closed, including bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos could reopen, with socially-distanced audiences in theatres and music venues allowed from August.
The lifting of restrictions does not yet apply to nightclubs, however, although Johnson said they would be “kept under review.”
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has welcomed further clarity on the reopening of more of the hospitality sector, but also called on the Government to ensure that those businesses remaining closed are given support.
“The reopening of additional parts of hospitality is more positive news for the sector as it looks to rebuild in the period ahead,” she says.
“The reopening of leisure facilities, such as bowling alleys and skating rinks from next month is a great boost, especially as we’re about to begin the school holidays and these will prove popular with families and children.”
For those businesses still not able to open, particularly nightclubs and soft play centres, Nicholls has called for “a roadmap for reopening” accompanied by targeted Government support that ensures that they do not suffer disproportionately while the rest of the sector welcomes back guests.
Johnson also announced that people can use public transport for journeys immediately and companies will have greater control over when they can bring staff back into the workplace, with Government advice changing from 1 August.
“Instead of government telling people to work from home, we are going to give employers more discretion, and ask them to make decisions about how their staff can work safely,” he said.
The decision likely to be welcomed by many in the hospitality sector, particularly in the capital, where low footfall is having a serious impact on businesses.
Nicholls says: “The decision to allow for the return of conferences, business events and stadia events in the Autumn is also great news as these are intrinsically linked and vitally important to hospitality, generating significant revenue for the venues that host them and providing tens of thousands of jobs.”
It has also been welcomed by Kay Buxton, chief executive of Marble Arch London BID, who says the move will benefit many other sectors.
“The return of conferences and events will also act as a major catalyst for the recovery of the hospitality businesses in the Marble Arch and Edgware Road area, who will also welcome the news that back to work and public transport guidance has changed and will encourage more people to travel back to central London and use their services again,” she says.
“We hope that the Prime Minister’s announcement is a major step forward to the recovery of central London’s economy.”