Hospitality traders welcome lockdown easing: ‘It will feel like the first day of school!’
Hospitality traders have welcomed the announcement of further easing of lockdown restrictions from next week.
Yesterday evening (May 10), Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the next step of the roadmap out of lockdown would go ahead on May 17 as planned.
That means hospitality businesses such as pubs and restaurants will be allowed to seat customers indoors in groups of up to six.
Indoor entertainment can also resume in places such as cinemas, libraries and children’s play areas.
Andy Sparsis’ Proto restaurant group runs businesses in Worthing and Littlehampton, including Fish Factory and the Fat Greek Taverna.
He said hospitality businesses could not wait to get going again after over a year of opening and closing.
“Worthing and Littlehampton’s second biggest employer, the hospitality sector,, has been forcibly closed longer than most industries,” said Andy, who also leads the Worthing Hospitality Federation.
“Every day closed causes more financial long term damage and massive mental stress to our teams. To be allowed to open and start working again actually feels like we are able to breathe again.
“It will feel like the first day at school for a while and we have missed our customers and can’t wait to start making their special dining experience again.”
On Monday, Mr Johnson said the four criteria had been met to allow the next stage of lockdown easing.
The vaccine programme continues successfully, he said, the vaccines are proving to be effective, cases are at their lowest point since September and hospital admissions are back to July levels.
Some larger events can now take place, such as concerts, sports events and theatre performances, and groups of up to 30 people can meet outdoors.
Rules on close contact will also be relaxed, with the public now allowed to make ‘their own decisions’ on hugging friends and family.
The return to close quarters will benefit micro pub owner Craig Stocker, who runs the Georgi Fin pubs in Worthing and Rustington.
Craig’s small, intimate pubs were decimated by social restrictions, but he said their easing will come as a welcome relief.
“Finally, it’s been the longest year!” said Craig.
“We can’t wait to see all our customers again and return to some much needed normality. This will be a bumper summer for all small independent businesses in our town.
“No-one could have predicted the effects of this pandemic a year ago, and let’s celebrate its end with a beer inside everyone’s favourite pubs.
“Cheers everyone, thank you to everyone who has continued to support The Georgi Fin, Goring and Rustington. See you next week.”
The fourth stage of lockdown easing is scheduled to take place no earlier than June 21, depending on the level of infection and effectiveness of the vaccination programme.