Hastings and Bexhill businesses react to PM’s road out of lockdown

Business leaders have given their reaction to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown today (Monday, February 22).

Monday, 22nd February 2021, 6:27 pm
Boris Johnson

The details were unveiled in Parliament as Mr Johnson addressed the Commons.

The roadmap includes a gradual easing of restrictions over the next four months.

John Bownas, manager of Love Hastings Ltd, said: “We’ve been saying since the UK bounced unpredictably in and out of tiers and lockdowns last year that the way forward was a clear picture of how the scientific data needed to lead decision-making on any sort of return to normality. 

“Businesses cannot make plans in a vacuum - and although we all know it’s almost impossible to put exact dates on when things will be safe to completely remove restrictions, what we all want is some way of being able to follow data trends to a point in the future when vaccination rates, transmission rates, infection rates, and hospitalisations hit a threshold for everyone to trade again. And by trade, I mean trade without masks, one-way systems, or curfews.

“For so many businesses right now, especially in hospitality and entertainment, it’s ‘Tier Zero or nothing’ - anything short of that sees the majority trading at a loss.”
Howard Marton, president of Bexhill Chamber of Commerce, said: “We fully appreciate that coming out of lockdown has to be cautious and in clearly defined stages.

“What Boris has announced gives businesses the chance to prepare and to finally to start to manage their cashflow and plans for re-opening. 

“We are pleased that he also announced that the Chancellor will continue with the support for businesses he has already been offering. 

“This has been a tremendous help locally where Bexhill Chamber has helped to distribute an estimated £1.4m in Government grant support to businesses. 

“We hope that the Chancellor will also help and support businesses over the coming year as we start to recover.”

Cllr Kim Forward, leader of Hastings Borough Council, said: “We do hope that the roadmap gives businesses the confidence and clarity to plan ahead, especially those in tourism and hospitality, a sector which has suffered particularly badly during the lockdowns.

“And a lot of local families here have suffered from Covid, too, particularly during the second wave before and after Christmas.

“Sadly, the ratio of second wave deaths to first wave deaths was higher here in Hastings than anywhere else in the country.

“So while it is important that people can plan to return to their jobs, to education, leisure activities and to mix with friends and loved ones as the lockdown eases, it is absolutely vital that we continue to heed the scientific advice and continue to stick to the government guidelines, both now and as the lockdown is gradually eased.

“The council will continue to support local people and businesses.”

As part of the roadmap out of lockdown, all pupils and students will return to schools and colleges across England on March 8.

People can meet one other person for a coffee or picnic outdoors.

Care home visitors can also have one regular visitor.

From March 29, you can meet up to six people, or two households, outdoors.

Outdoor sports can also take place.The ‘stay at home’ order is set to be scrapped with a ‘stay local’ one.

From April 12, all non-essential shops, hairdressers, nail salons, and gyms can reopen.

Table service will be allowed at beer gardens and outdoor seating at restaurants for groups of up to six or two households.

Campsite and self-catering holiday lets can also reopen from April 12. Weddings and wakes will be able to have 15 guests.

Pubs and restaurants will be reopened for indoor trading no earlier than May 17, with Rule of Six in place.

The Rule of Six will be lifted for outdoors with gatherings of up to 30 allowed.

Indoor mixing will be allowed for up to six people or two households.

Cinemas, indoor restaurants and hotels can reopen.

Up to 1,000 people will be allowed at indoor sports venues and up to 4,000 at outdoor sports venues.Weddings and wakes will be allowed to have 30 guests.

International travel is set to be possible from May 17 at the earliest.

The earliest date for the lifting of all legal limits on social contact will be June 21, with nightclubs allowed to reopen and no restrictions on sports venues or performances. 

* Got a story? Ring reporters Richard Gladstone on 07803 505794 or Stephen Wynn-Davies on 07393 754494.

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