Lockdown could be eased earlier than expected.
Operation ‘save summer’ is officially a go, with ministers reportedly eyeing up June 22 as an early re-opening date for pubs and restaurants.
The new timeline comes as Business Secretary Alok Sharma warned the government just last week that 3.5 million jobs would be at risk if the hospitality sector remained closed, with only a small number of establishments adapting to a takeaway business model amid the UK lockdown.
Originally planned to re-open on a conditional basis on July 4, it’s now reported by three senior Whitehall officials that ministers are planning to allow bars and restaurants with outdoor seating areas to re-open this month, in a bid to prevent mass-redundancies across the nation as businesses continue to struggle due to closures.
The businesses would be required to follow new social distancing guidelines, which would see distance created between tables and all service provided outside – where the virus is less likely to be transmitted – with the use of apps for table service encouraged. There is currently no further updates on when establishments will be able to resume service indoors.
While a move towards normal life will be welcomed with arms wide open by many of us, scientists are concerned that the lockdown regulations may have been lifted too quickly, with the North West region in particular still struggling with an R rate over 1.
Speaking in an urgent conference this weekend, Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham teamed up with Steve Rotherham, Mayor of Liverpool to discuss the region’s R rate, hitting back at how the government have handled the virus so far.
“It is our view, expressed clearly at the time, that the loosening of the lockdown came too soon for the North West,” the Mayors said. “It was done without proper consultation or forward planning.”
The Mayors continued that children should not return to schools until it is safe to do so, as well as calling for a review before non-essential shops can re-open this June 15, with both Mayors seeking ‘validation’ from SAGE. The Mayors also expressed that they did not support the idea of local lockdown, saying that local furlough schemes would need to be put in place by the government to support those in the region unable to work as a result of the potential lockdowns.
Businesses in the North West are continuing to struggle, with Chester Zoo calling out to the public to help them raise funds, and tapas spot Lunya confirming today that their doors will not be re-opening following the UK lockdown.