It’s been widely reported that the government’s planned lifting of all Covid-19 restrictions on June 21 for England is to be delayed by four weeks.
According to various media outlets, including the BBC, senior ministers have this morning signed off on the decision, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson set to confirm the news via a televised press conference later today.
Stage four of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown would see all legal limits on social contact removed.
However this delay would mean capacity limits for hospitality venues and weddings will remain, and nightclubs will stay closed for at least another month, delivering a devastating blow to these businesses.
The work from home where possible order would also stay in place.
Last week, UKHospitality warned that a delay to the lifting of restrictions would further jeopardise the future of thousands of sector businesses and the jobs they provide.
The trade association says any delay would be devastating for the sector and around 300,000 jobs would be put at risk – including those still on furlough.
A one-month delay to restrictions lifting would cost the sector around £3 billion in sales – but would also have a knock-on impact on bookings throughout the summer and into the autumn. Alongside the impact on revenue, businesses are now facing a jump in costs with business rates payments set to recommence and employer contributions to furlough kicking in.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “A full and final ending of restrictions is the only way to ensure that businesses in this sector can trade profitably. If Government decides it has to keep some restrictions in place after 21st June, then it must prioritise those that do the least damage to business and commit to further supporting the sector. Confidence has been shaken so it is imperative that Government postpones business rates payments until at least October and extend the rent and debt moratoria for hospitality businesses while a long-term solution to Covid arrears is found.”
All areas of Scotland are due to move to Level Zero Covid restrictions on 28 June – meaning bigger groups can gather in cafés, pubs and restaurants, although they will still have to observe social distancing.
Limits on indoor gatherings in Northern Ireland are scheduled to be relaxed on 21 June – when the current rules in Wales will also be reviewed.