UK

First step on roadmap out of lockdown is revealed

First step on roadmap out of lockdown is revealed as Boris Johnson aims to prioritise reopening schools on March 8 and will allow larger outdoor gatherings three weeks later… but the agony goes on for shops, pubs and salons

  •  Pubs and restaurant owners said they needed a light at the end of the tunnel  
  •  40 Tory MPs joined with hospitality industry to call for opening of pubs by Easter

Tory MPs lined up with business leaders tonight to urge Boris Johnson to ‘be bold’ and accelerate the lifting of all lockdown restrictions.

Pubs and restaurant owners said they needed to see light at the end of the tunnel after a devastating year for the hospitality industry.

Former Conservative leader Lord Hague heaped further pressure on the Prime Minister by saying there would be little justification for keeping most Covid limits once the over-50s have been vaccinated in April.

Some people are on the (tug-o-war) pitch… they think it’s all over!

Off the leash: Owners take their dogs for a walk in Richmond Park, south-west London

Off the leash: Owners take their dogs for a walk in Richmond Park, south-west London 

This came as 40 Tory MPs joined with the hospitality industry to urge Mr Johnson to open pubs and restaurants in time for Easter.

Meanwhile Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, called on the Prime Minister to open up the tourism industry.

‘There is enormous demand for seeing friends and family, and taking a holiday,’ he said. ‘Passengers and airlines want to see a bold plan detailing how and when they will be able to take to the skies, safely, again.’

Lord Hague told Sky News: ‘I’m hoping to hear that before too long the great majority of restrictions can be lifted.

Members of the public enjoy a walk, cycle or run in Hyde Park, central London

Members of the public enjoy a walk, cycle or run in Hyde Park, central London

‘If we are going to reach the point where everybody over 50 has had the opportunity to be vaccinated and the number of cases is down to a very low level, the sort of level we last saw in the middle of summer last year.

‘If both of those things have happened by some time in April, then there wouldn’t be much justification for keeping most of the restrictions.

‘Coming in through 2021, we ought to be in a position with mass testing, a test and trace system and the huge success of the vaccination programme… then we do have the tools to prevent future lockdowns.’

Last night the UK’s leading hospitality trade associations joined forces with the Covid Recovery Group of 40 Tory MPs to call for the sector to open by Easter.

Mark Harper, CRG chairman, said: ‘Britain’s hospitality industry has had one of the toughest years on record and it’s vital we do everything we can to get them open in a Covid-secure way that allows them to protect jobs and operate viably.

‘As we get better and better news about the pace of the vaccination rollout, the public have got to see this success and their sacrifice translating into a return to normal life.’

Steve Baker, deputy chairman of the CRG, said pubs and the rest of the hospitality industry had lost hundreds of thousands of jobs ‘and 40 per cent of its businesses are due to fail this year if we don’t start safely lifting restrictions’.

Parklife: All the people happily stroll along the Long Walk in Windsor, Berkshire

Parklife: All the people happily stroll along the Long Walk in Windsor, Berkshire

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: ‘Pubs demonstrated last year that the trade was able to reopen safely.

‘The millions of pounds of investment in Covid-secure measures mean that we’re in a great position to do so again.’

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said ‘just one in five hospitality businesses’ have enough funds to survive the next month.

‘That is why we urge the Prime Minister to work with us on delivering a safe, swift and sustainable exit from lockdown for hospitality,’ she added. ‘The best way to support these businesses is to allow them to reopen.’

John Foster, of the Confederation of British Industry, said that companies are looking to Mr Johnson to ‘provide a pragmatic route out of lockdown and inject some real momentum back into the economy’.

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