Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday outlined a plan for easing the coronavirus lockdown in England. Mr Johnson said "at least some of the hospitality industry" could reopen within two months, provided they enforce social distancing.
All of the new measures outlined – which also included the return to work for those that cannot work from home, the quarantining of travellers to the UK and a possible reopening of primary schools by June – were said to be the "first sketch of a road map for reopening society" and if the rate of infection begins to climb there will be a return to full lockdown restrictions.
The chair of the Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA), Lex Butler, expressed fears that many businesses in the UK meetings and events industry will not survive until the possible start of the reopening of the hospitality industry in July.
"The businesses in this industry urgently need much more support to survive and to get their 700,000 staff back to work and off furlough," said Butler. "As HBAA has been demanding for several weeks, we immediately need to know that the furlough scheme will be extended beyond the end of June and on what terms.
"We need clarity now to prevent closures and large scale loss of jobs. We also need clarity and clear definition on whether the Government’s statement that the “hospitality industry could start to reopen in July" includes meetings and events and what criteria it must meet.
"We welcome the recognition of the impact of the lockdown on mental wellbeing but we need so much more to get people in the events, hospitality and travel industry back to work safely and confidently."
Ahead of his address, Boris Johnson also unveiled a new slogan for England: "Stay alert, control the virus, save lives", but ministers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have maintained the original "stay at home" line.
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