Frustration as freedom day delay fears escalate
- Credit: PA
Suffolk hospitality bosses have spoken of their fears that lockdown may not be eased further on June 21, with an announcement set to be made on Monday.
Under the government roadmap, June 21 was the suggested date when all limits on people mixing may be removed and businesses such as nightclubs might be able to reopen. It was also expected that social distancing rules might have been relaxed.
But now, with cases of the Delta variant of the virus climbing and more than 1,000 people in hospital with Covid, that date is expected to be pushed back.
Nick Attfield, director of properties at Southwold-based brewery Adnams, said: “It’s quite manic at the moment and planning for June 21 still with question marks over it is quite frustrating.
“They’ll make the announcement next Monday. That'll effectively leave us four working days to decide what to do.
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“If they go ahead with full blown ‘everything's fine, off you go’ then it’s happy days we know exactly what we're doing. But I think it’s the worry that there might still be some restrictions left on hospitality.”
Mr Attfield said the discussion around reopening was “polarising”.
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He said there was a split among his staff over their feeling about reopening, with many of his staff under 30 and not yet fully vaccinated.
“I think our teams are a true reflection of society in general,” he said. “You've got people at different ends of the worry spectrum. We all handle these things differently.
“We're all a bit nervous about what what's going to happen in in either direction.”
Steve Lomas, boss of Deben Inns which runs seven pubs around Woodbridge, said from his company's point of view the important thing was not sliding back into lockdown in the future and he would not mind a two week extension of restrictions.
Mr Lomas said the company's pubs were currently operating at 60% of capacity inside and 75% capacity outside.
He said: "We're a little insulated really being in villages that have got campsites and what have you. We've got a reasonable level of trade at the moment
"There are people with town pubs and bars that are haemorrhaging cash at the moment. They're desperate to get everyone back to the offices and everyone back into town and back on nights out. It's very tough times for them.
"I have huge sympathies for the people with smaller town centre operations."