Delay over end of lockdown restictions would be 'crushing blow'

Hospitality venues are anxiously awaiting the Government’s announcement over whether coronavirus restrictions will be fully lifted later this month.

June 21 had been earmarked as the date when all legal limits on social contact would be removed as part of Step 4 of the roadmap out of lockdown.

But the emergence of the highly transmissible Delta COVID-19 variant has cast doubt over whether restrictions will be fully relaxed in less than two weeks.

Lee Wright, manager of the Maiden’s Head, High Street, told the Advertiser that rules around table service and capacity limits indoors had placed huge strain on the pub industry.

He said: “What people don’t realise is we need to put more staff on with table service.

“Our costs go up but we have less customers and its been a long battle that we’ve been trying to deal with.

“If these restrictions don’t get lifted on June 21 that’s going to put more pubs in jeopardy because people are trying to survive as it is.

“It’s the old story of how much money is in the pot before it runs out?”

Cox Green-based wedding venue Lillibrooke Manor had to reschedule 95 per cent of its planned weddings last year to 2021 due to coronavirus restrictions.

Guest limits for weddings are currently capped at 30 but this restriction was set to be removed in the last stage of the lockdown roadmap.

Staff at Lillibrooke Manor in Cox Green. Ref: 133594

Val Pearson, managing director at Heritage Venues, which runs the site, said it would be a ‘crushing blow’ if the June 21 date got pushed back.

She said: “Given where we are with other events where strangers are allowed to get together in greater numbers and knowing that families have a vested interest in each other, as an industry we don’t understand why weddings have been specically singled out throughout the whole pandemic.

“It would just be a crushing blow if this date of the June 21 is put back with even more uncertainty over whether it will be extended again.”

Hedsor House, a sprawling stately home in Taplow, has faced its most difficult period over the last 100 years, according to director Mark Shephard.

“My family have had the house for 100 years and its been the most difficult experience the house has ever been through,” Mark told the Advertiser.

“The reopening is crucial for us not being wiped out for another summer which would be pretty catastrophic for the business.

“We have everything crossed and are praying for things to resume.”

Councillor Stuart Carroll, cabinet member for health at Windsor and Maidenhead Council, said the local authority is awaiting the Government’s announcement on Step 4 of lockdown but added the country should remain on the ‘right side of caution’.

He said: “The Prime Minister has rightly said it’s under daily review (June 21 restrictions) and it needs to be based on the emerging evidence around any of the variants of concern.

“Up until that point it’s just really important people do remain prudent and cautious by social distancing, washing hands, wearing masks.

“We need to be on the right side of caution here because of course we want our freedoms and liberties back and this pandemic continues to be challenging for many people.

“But we do need to make sure we are doing things appropriately and that’s why tracking the data and tracking the evidence is critical.”

He urged people to step forward and take their coronavirus vaccine if offered as that provided the true route to freedom.

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