Business chief hails 'crucial milestone' as indoor hospitality returns

The re-opening of indoor bars and restaurants has been called a ‘crucial milestone’ in economic recovery by a leading business body.
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The East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) was reacting after the latest round of lockdown easing measures came into force today (Monday).

While many pubs with beer gardens have been able to re-open since April 12, for others and for many restaurants and cafes, this has been the first chance to open again since the third lockdown was imposed at the start of the year.

Scott Knowles, East Midlands chief executive, said: “Today marks another crucial milestone in our economic recovery and there will be many pubs, restaurants, cafés, cinemas and other businesses celebrating the opportunity to either expand their capacity or reopen for the first time this year.

Scott Knowles, East Midlands Chamber chief executive. Photo: Mark AverillScott Knowles, East Midlands Chamber chief executive. Photo: Mark Averill
Scott Knowles, East Midlands Chamber chief executive. Photo: Mark Averill

“Those businesses have been hit harder than most during the pandemic, but we’ve argued all along that they will be viable in a fully functioning and open economy.

So it’s vitally important our communities are ready to support them now they are able to once more.

“Business confidence has returned strongly in recent months due to the success of the vaccine rollout and bold assurances from the Prime Minister about the direction of travel, with the latest Quarterly Economic Survey by East Midlands Chamber showing a net 53 per cent of businesses expected their turnover to improve over the coming year, with a third (net 35 per cent) anticipating a rise in profits.

“For this belief – and, as a consequence, our economic recovery – to be maintained, businesses will need to see today as just one more step towards normality.

"That means they require certainty about what the future holds, including the fourth stage of the roadmap commencing irreversibly as planned on June 21.

A recent survey undertaken by the chamber amongst its members also showed that three-quarters (74 per cent) of people were looking forward to the return of face-to-face events, with only 12 per cent feeling apprehensive or not keen on attending them.

And despite going ahead as planned with the relaxation of restrictions, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called for a ‘heavy dose of caution’ amid continued concerns over the Indian Covid variant that is spreading across parts of the country.