According to the recent government announcement, the easing of UK lockdown restrictions on June 21 is set to be pushed back by a month to July 19.
This postponement of re-opening social events like nightclubs and festivals could have an immeasurable impact on the economy and businesses struggling to stay afloat throughout the pandemic.
According to England’s original roadmap out of lockdown, June 21 was initially set to end all social restrictions, meaning all remaining fixtures like sporting games and nightclubs could operate as normal with precautionary measures, such as face masks, still in place.
Due to the rising number of coronavirus cases and the Delta variant, scientists have deemed the end of restrictions on June 21 too premature, despite over three quarters of the UK’s adult population being vaccinated.
Speaking on the impact of restrictions lifting, Kate Harl, head of restaurant at the Bean Inn, said: “It feels like we’re treading water at the moment. We’re not able to progress and make a decent profit. We’re not at risk of going under, but it’s very, very difficult and challenging to go forward.”
Even with most pubs and restaurants operating in limited capacities today, overall sales in the hospitality industry are down by over 40%, with 300,000 UK jobs currently on furlough.
The British Chambers of Commerce’s co-executive director, Claire Walker, said: “We would be calling for the government to provide further cash grants, at least equivalent to levels provided during the first lockdown, and to delay the tapering of government payments into the furlough scheme, planned for the start of July.”
Even with the support proposed by the government support, many business owners are claiming it’s not enough. In the nightlife industry, 54% of businesses surveyed said they have already prepared and ordered in stock for June 21, with a further 73% of companies preparing their staff for their initial re-opening. If the delay goes according to plan, businesses across the board would be operating at a loss, meaning copious amounts of stock and operating equipment would go to waste.
In regards to the divisive decision, Junior Health Minister Ed Argar spoke to Sky News, saying: “I know [the prime minister] is very mindful of the need for businesses and others to get the support they need if they continue to be locked down or unable to open.”
There was a small silver lining, though: wedding and civil partnership restrictions capped at a 30-person limit are set to change on June 21 as originally planned.
Boris Johnson failed to state whether restrictions would definitively end on July 19, but said: “At a certain stage, we’re going to have to learn to live with the virus and to manage it as best we can. At the end of that [four-week delay]… we do think that we will have built up a very considerable wall of immunity around the whole of the population.”