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Hotels to stay closed until March 8 ‘at the earliest’

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The hospitality sector in England will remain closed until at least March 8, the date which the Prime Minister has set for the anticipated return of schools.

Speaking at a Downing Street Press Conference last night, Boris Johnson confirmed that schools will not return until March 8, two weeks after the most vulnerable groups have been vaccinated, with a phased plan to unlock the economy after that date.

He then said the government would set out its proposed exit strategy from lockdown on February 22, with details of a return to the tier system expected to be announced.

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A vaccine progress announcement is to be made on February 15.

Johnson said: “In the week beginning 22nd February we will set out our plan not just for re-opening our schools but gradually to re-open our economy and our society and to get our lives back to as close to normal as possible.

“Now this will be a timetable that is inevitably going to be subject to adjustment.”

This morning, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said it would be “premature to imagine” lockdown restrictions in England will be lifted before 8 March,.

UKHospitality’s CEO Kate Nicholls wrote on Twitter: “We look forward to working with govt on the plan from 8 March to reopen hospitality safely and swiftly. Priority must be to ensure all are capable of trading and restrictions are proportionate, pragmatic and focused on max health benefits & min economic harm with suppt while last.”

Raphael Herzog, chair of the Bristol Hoteliers Association, added: “We need a roadmap, like the one laid out for schools. Previously, we have been given just a few days’ notice that we are able to open again, which is simply not enough time to get everything ready.

“We need to know when we can recruit; when we can open; we need clear answers on whether or not the VAT reduction will be extended – we have called for it to be extended for the whole of 2021 because it is going to take time for our businesses to get back up and running.”

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Zoe Monk

The author Zoe Monk

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