Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced yesterday (Monday 21 February) all Covid restrictions in the UK will be lifted from Thursday 24 February, with free testing to end from 1 April.
Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) CEO Michael Kill said: “The withdrawal of the remaining Covid restrictions is welcomed by the NTIA.
“Despite this most recent announcement, we remain focussed on our responsibility to keep customers and staff safe, maintaining baseline mitigations as we have done since 19 July 2021.
“Experts have suggested recovery to pre-Covid trading levels will take several years, but even this will require the helping hand of Government in supporting the sector, beginning with the Chancellor’s upcoming Spring Statement.
“Businesses will be making investment and staffing decision based on the Chancellor’s statement, with many businesses still in a precarious position, ensuring the right support package is in place will be critical.
Not time to declare victory
“This is a sector that has sacrificed more than just about any other part of the economy, and it seems right that continued support is commensurate with the scale of hit that we took during the pandemic.”
From Thursday 24 February, those who test positive for Covid will no longer be legally required to self-isolate, but will be advised to stay at home for at least five full days, and contact tracing will end with fully-vaccinated close contacts and under 18's no longer legally required to test daily for seven days.
The PM told the House of Commons on Monday (21 February) evening, while the country had passed the peak of Omicron, now was not the time to “declare victory over Covid because the virus is not going away”.
British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “Moving beyond Covid restrictions marks an important milestone in the road to recovery for pubs.
“A recent study from CGA found that 70% of people now feel confident about visiting pubs, bars, and restaurants so we are hopeful we have seen the last of any restrictions.
“However, as we move to living with Covid as an endemic virus it is important the pub and brewing sector receive the necessary support and guidance to ensure a strong and sustainable recovery.”
Trade bodies across the sector have urged the Government to reconsider the end of VAT reduction in April as hospitality still needs support after being hit “first, longest and hardest” by Covid.
UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls said: “We are pleased to see much of our five point plan for living with Covid has been taken forward by Government.
“Hospitality was hit first, longest and hardest by this pandemic and with costs rising across the board and a VAT rise due this April – just as the cost-of-living crisis is set to bite – businesses in the sector still need support.
“At the very least, we need the Government to commit to keeping VAT at 12.5% beyond April in order for the industry to be able to play its full role in the UK’s social and economic recovery.”