'Bring on staycation Britain' - Hospitality bosses react to PM's announcement
- Credit: Claudia Gannon
Pubs, restaurants and indoor attractions have shared their joy at the further lifting of lockdown restrictions from May 17 – as their teams prepare for a bumper summer.
Indoor dining at pubs and restaurants, as well as the indoor mixing of households – and hugging – are all allowed to return from next week, following Boris Johnson's Number 10 press conference on Monday.
For those in the hospitality industry, the lifting of restrictions is hoped to bring a summer of positivity, with an expected boom in trading as people head out to meet friends and family indoors once again.
Brendan Padfield, owner of multi-award winning gastropub The Unruly Pig near Woodbridge, said the announcement "makes all the difference in the world".
“Happy days are here again, hurrah!" he said. "I shall be counting down the days.
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"Hospitality has probably been the sector hit most hard by this pandemic – this is such welcome news.
"It will be a return to vague normality for us all, but for my business, this easing of regulation will make all the difference in the world."
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Hotels, B&Bs and other indoor overnight accommodation will also be allowed to fully reopen – with Mr Padfield expecting a boom in local tourism.
He said: "For East Anglia as a region, this is the best news we have had in a very long time – it will be one huge boost for our tourist industry.
"Bring on staycation Britain."
The Hotel Folk, which runs hotels across Suffolk, has already experienced bookings going "through the roof".
Company CEO David Scott added: “We are expecting a record breaking summer with a high level of occupancy through into the autumn."
There is likely to be a similar situation in Essex, with Clacton Pier owners expecting a summer of fun.
Pier director Billy Ball said: "Let’s hope there are no setbacks, and we can all start to enjoy a fun summer in as a normal business environment as possible."
A spokeswoman for the Abbeygate Cinema in Bury St Edmunds added the company is "thrilled" by Mr Johnson's announcement.
"We've been humbled by the huge amount of support we've been given during the past year and we're delighted to be back with great excitement and optimism for our future," she said.
However, while the further relaxation of lockdown brings benefits both emotionally and economically, some charities have warned people may be left with heightened levels of anxiety and confusion.
Jo Reeder, CEO of Suffolk charity BSEVC, which offers transport and mental health support to people across the county, said those aged over 65 could be among those facing fear.
She said: "While people will of course be excited to have been given that permission to get out and about and visit their friends and family again, there will be people with a sense of enhanced worry and anxiety about what it means for them.
"Prolonged isolation is really detrimental on mental health as we know. These people could have already been lonely before Covid, which has taken many of the support networks away from them.
"My concern is there will be a cohort who are anxious about what to do, where to go and how to reengage with their community.
"I think charitable and voluntary services will see a huge increase in want and need, with people having so many questions about what this means for them."
Ezra Hewing, head of education at Suffolk Mind, added it will take time to assess any benefits the lifting of lockdown has on mental health.
He said: "We know that it’s been hard for people to meet needs to feel connected to others and in control of their lives. As lockdown lifts this may help people to better meet those needs.
"However, we should keep in mind that some people still feel unsafe or lacking in confidence with reconnecting to others – or even anxious that we may see another lockdown before the summer is here. So, we may have to wait a while to see the full benefits."