However, it has cautioned that the next easing of lockdown restrictions in England also comes with a warning.
Scott Knowles, chief executive of the East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) was responding to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s confirmation this week that stage two of the Government’s roadmap for lifting lockdown will start on April 12.
Mr Knowles said: “This is a positive announcement for the whole country and will be hugely welcomed by businesses in sectors such as hospitality and personal care, which are among those to have borne the brunt of the harshest lockdown restrictions.
“The opportunity to partly reopen will provide a bounce for those firms and allow them to finally begin clawing back some of the lost income they have
experienced over the past year.
“But with rules stipulating restaurants and bars can only serve food and alcohol to customers outdoors, we must remember this is only a small step in the right
direction and it will require stages three and four of the Government’s roadmap to take place before we can start to imagine normal life again.
"It’s not a substitute for a fully open and functioning economy.
“It’s also crucial that Westminster doesn’t use this as an opportunity to slow down its support to businesses in these sectors as many of these will be running
at a loss due to the capacity constraints.
“The Prime Minister’s comments that so-called ‘vaccine passports’ will not be forced upon pubs, restaurants and shops are also a relief for many of these businesses and we hope No 10 continues to consult with the relevant industry groups about how they might be implemented voluntarily should owners believe they would be beneficial.
“On the flip side, frustration continues for the aviation sector with international travel still restricted for the foreseeable future.
"It’s imperative the Government provides the same type of financial support for this industry as it has for other parts of the economy that have been affected by lockdown.
“While we’re clearly not yet out of the woods, but from next Monday we will finally be able to detect some light at the end of this long, dark tunnel.”