MPs demand hospitality be allowed to open by Easter

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

MPs Steve Baker CRG demand hospitality be allowed to open by Easter

Related tags: Hospitality, lockdown, Coronavirus, Government

A group of Tory MPs have written to the Prime Minister demanding that pubs and restaurants be given the go-ahead to reopen by Easter.

More than 60 ministers in the Covid Recovery Group (CRG) have sought to increase pressure on Boris Johnson as he prepares to layout his 'roadmap' for reopening the economy next week, insisting he commit to a clear timetable for the lifting of restrictions.

In the letter, the group said pubs and restaurants must be able to open in a 'commercially viable manner' from Easter, and that all lockdown restrictions should come to an end as soon as the top nine priority groups are vaccinated by the end of April.

Speaking on talkRADIO ​this morning (15 February), CRG deputy chairman Steve Baker said: "By the time we get to Easter we'll have vaccinated about two-thirds of groups, one to nine, and by the end of April we should have completed groups one to nine that includes people under the age of 50, who are vulnerable to disease.

"So we think it's reasonable to ask for all schools returning back on March 8 and for ministers to then have restrictions which are proportionate to the harm that Covid-19 is then capable of doing.

"Of course, Easter is a very big deal for the hospitality sectors and restaurants and pubs having invested in being COVID secure, we think that we should be, as we cast our minds forward seven weeks, we think we should be looking at Easter for pubs and restaurants and hospitality venues being able to open.

"And then by the time we get to the end of April, and the vulnerable have been vaccinated, accounting for 99 percent of those who so far have died in this crisis.

"We think that's the point of which really is very difficult to justify, that's impossible to justify further legislative restrictions on people's lives."

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said yesterday (14 February) that reopening pubs before Easter was unlikely.

“What I can tell you is that schools are the priority,” he told Times Radio​.

“On top of that, in terms of business, non-essential retail and then, after that, I suppose given the wider risk of transmission, we want to get hospitality open.

“But the truth is it does need to be evidence-driven. You’ve got to see how the vaccine rollout works and gauge the impact it has on the virus, including the variations. Which is why it’s difficult to set out with a cast-iron guarantee what the plans will be in the way that some of my colleagues wish us to.”

It’s understood that ministers are considering a series of plans for reopening, one of which could see pubs and restaurants open for outside service in April and for indoor service in May.

Related topics: Business & Legislation

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