Delight at news of July 19 'Freedom Day' confirmation
- Credit: PA
Business owners and leaders have expressed their delight at news that the government intends to end the country's lockdown restrictions as planned in July.
Prime minister Boris Johnson and his new health secretary Sajid Javid today confirmed their intention for July 19 to mark the end of England's Covid rules.
Mr Javid resisted pressure from Tory MPs to bring forward the date of Step 4 of the road map, but he said there was "no reason" why the July 19 deadline would not be met.
The prime minister signalled that the "terminus" date would mean going "back to life as it was before Covid as far as possible".
When "freedom day" was delayed from June 21, a review was announced which could have seen restrictions eased on July 5 - something that ministers have now rejected.
In his first commons statement since replacing West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock, Mr Javid said: "While we decided not to bring forward Step 4, we see no reason to go beyond July 19, because, in truth, no date we choose comes with zero risk for Covid.
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"We know we cannot simply eliminate it, we have to learn to live with it."
David Marjoram, owner of a brewery and five pubs, including the One Bull in Bury St Edmunds, said the news was "very promising".
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"I'm obviously delighted but I'm still waiting to see what the exact terms and conditions will be," he said. "As usual, I fear it will be very last minute before we get to know that.
"But of course the headline is very promising."
Mr Marjoram said life in the hospitality industry during the pandemic has been extremely difficult, but he now hopes to get back to "some sort of normality".
"It's been absolutely brutal", he said.
"Particularly the closing down, the reopening, the closing down again, and the change of rules. If you think of the 15/16 months since this started, we've probably been closed down three times, and therefore had the three reopenings to follow but it's probably about seven different shifts in ways we're allowed to operate.
"Which puts enormous pressure on the leadership of the company but right through to the junior part of the team who have got to keep abreast of the ways they're allowed to work to offer a safe and legal environment.
"So if we can get back to some sort of normality, it will be a massive relief to everybody. I think from the first phase of this reopening, the hope has been that we're only moving in one direction, that we can take steps forward.
"As long as it's a forward motion and we don't have to move backwards again because it enables us to start rebuilding our business."
Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District (BID), said: "I am very pleased to hear this positive announcement, which I am sure will be welcomed by all BID members and the community of Bury St Edmunds who have been so supportive of our businesses.
"It also means our motorsport event on July 25 at the Food and Drink Festival over the August Bank Holiday weekend can go ahead as planned.
"So it's a summer to really look forward to."