Harrogate hospitality sector reopens with hope that roadmap will hold as warnings grow over Indian variant of virus
Businesses in Harrogate's hospitality sector are hoping today's easing of lockdown rules holds as the voices of caution grow ever stronger over the threat of the Indian variant of Covid
The return of indoors dining and drinking has been much anticipated - and needed - by a sector harder hit than most by the rolling lockdowns over the last 14 months in the battle against the pandemic despite Governent support schemes such as furloughing.
In the beer industry alone, only 40% of pubs nationally felt it was financially viable to reopen when stage 2 of the Governement's roadmap allowing them to serve customers outdoors only was introduced on April 12.
The British Beer and Pub Association estimates the arrival today of stage 3 means a further 45,000 pubs will now be reopening across the country as they welcome back customers indoors for the first time since last December.
Among the many Harrogate bars, cafes and restaurants about to welcome back customers indoors are The Devonshire Tap House on Skipton Road in Harrogate which did not reopen under the last stage, Lucia Wine Bar & Grill on Ripon Road in Harrogate which has just undergone a £600,000 refurbishment, the Half Moon on Abbey Road in Knaresborough which has been closed for nearly six months and the Little Ale House micro pub on Cheltenham Crescent in Harrogate.
Although Prime Minister Boris pledged the roadmap would see the final lockdown when he first announced his plans in February, calls are growing already for the public not to take full advantage of the new relaxation - even from the Prime Minister himself.
While some scientific experts have been quoted in the national media calling on the public to avoid socialising indoors to prevent a third wave of the disease, the Prime Minister said yesterday that "we must take this next step with a heavy dose of caution".
Some Government ministers are urging the public to continue to do things outside as far as possible and testing and track and trace remain priorities despite the arrival of stage three, the final stage of the roadmap before the scheduled end of restrictions completely on June 21.
But that date is looking increasingly in jeopardy as news reports of the Indian variant of the virus show infection rates on the rise in parts of London, Bedford, Leicester, Nottingham, Blackburn and, in particular, Bolton.
The fear is that, as has happened several times before, Covid lockdown easing may be reversed entirely if the new variant takes a wider hold and hospital admissions rise.
Stage 3 of easing lockdown: Where we stand at the moment
From Monday, May 17 indoor hospitality can reopen and indoor entertainment can resume, including cinemas, museums, and children’s play areas.
Up to six people or two households will be able to meet indoors and up to 30 people outdoors.
All remaining outdoor entertainment can reopen, such as outdoor cinemas and performances.
Some larger events will be able to take place, including conferences, theatre and concert performances, and sports events.
Restrictions on the number of attendees will remain as set out in the Roadmap.
Guidance on meeting family and friends will be updated.
The public can make informed, personal decisions on close contact, such as hugging, with their friends and family
The Transport Secretary has confirmed that international travel can begin to safely reopen from May 17, allowing people to go on foreign holidays to ‘green’ list countries.
Up to 30 people will now be able to attend weddings, receptions, and commemorative events including wakes, as well as standalone life-cycle events.
These can take place outdoors or at any indoor Covid secure venue that is permitted to open.
Organised adult sport and exercise classes can resume indoors and saunas and steam rooms may reopen.
The final stage of the roadmap, Step 4 is due to take place no earlier than June 21.
Further details on Step are scheduled to be set out at the end of May.
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