There’s just been an announcement in the House of Commons by the Prime Minister and it’s a ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown – outlining when we can start doing things again.
The roadmap is based on 4 overriding tests that have been set out, each one will be checked every 4 weeks…
1) The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
2) Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
3) Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
4) Our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of concern.
So, should these things happen then we should see all non-essential retail, hairdressers, zoos, theme parks, drive-in cinemas and libraries OPEN on the 12th April. In addition, pubs and restaurants will begin to open, for OUTDOORS SERVICE – but with NO curfew, and NO requirement to order a stupid substantial meal.
Subsequently, should infection rates continue to fall, the next step will see most restrictions on meeting outdoors lifted by 17th May. Cinemas, play areas, hotels and theatres will also open, as well as larger events.
Pubs and restaurants will also be able to OPEN for indoor service from this time.
Then on the 21st June, all limits on social contacts should be lifted and large events like weddings should be able to go ahead.
So, that’s all good news by the looks of it. It’s important to stress that for each step to happen, rates of infection need to continue to fall, as well as hospitalisation and deaths from the virus. It also assumes continued vaccination of the population, of which I believe the government is promising most of us to be jabbed by June.
It’s great news to hear that pubs and restaurants can open once again, however those without outside seating areas will be adversely affected and seemingly unable to re-open. With the Manchester weather too – that will be a struggle for many.
Reacting to the ‘Roadmap’ Sacha Lord, Night Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester comments:
“I extend an open invitation to the Government to visit the North, in particular the most working class areas of Greater Manchester which rely on their local, traditional pubs and social clubs for a sense of community and to stave off isolation and loneliness.
The vast majority of these pubs do not have beer gardens, a luxury only reserved for middle class areas who have the space and financial capabilities. It is once again the working class who are hardest hit by the decisions coming from Westminster during this pandemic.
Secondly. For the operators across the UK who can trade outdoors, breaking even is not a possibility here. They cannot pay rents, rates and bills or afford to take staff off furlough if they are only serving to 10% capacity. Many will simply choose not to reopen.
With ‘data not dates’ being touted as the reasoning behind decisions, we see no reason why indoor hospitality cannot reopen at the same time as non-essential retail. The hospitality sector has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on ensuring venues are Covid secure and we still have no data to confirm they are a high risk area of transmission. I see no justification for the delay in reopening.
Lastly. We need urgent clarity on the financial support operators will have access to, and cannot afford to wait until the Chancellor’s budget is announced in ten days.