England’s hospitality sector received a massive New Years Eve boost as Health secretary Sajid Javid confirmed there will be no further Covid restrictions introduced in England in 2021, however, the public have been advised to celebrate New Years Eve outside if possible.
Mr Javid said people “should remain cautious” but after reviewing the latest data on the Omicron variant decided not to impose restrictions beyond the Plan B measures already in place.
Industry leaders representing pubs, nightclubs and restaurants in England applauded the “positive” statement which, they say could put the sector “on to the road to recovery”.
Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality chief executive, said: “Hospitality businesses will be raising a new year’s toast to celebrate the Government’s pragmatic and proportionate approach.
“This will give a real lifeline for many who have struggled with the loss of trade in the run-up to Christmas and the loss of new year on top of that would have been devastating for many.
“It will be a welcome boost and keeping restrictions to a minimum and lifting the remaining restrictions as quickly as possible to help the beleaguered sector back on to the road to recovery.
”The Night Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester, Sacha Lord, responded to the announcement on Twitter: “This announcement is bigger than a New Years Eve party in England. For many, this will give us hope. For many, this will help some struggling at the moment. A tough decision, but a defining one.”
A spokesperson for the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said: “It is good news to know that we are staying open at new year. This festive trade is very important for the sector to see us through the winter. We hope this decision is a positive signal for the future as we enter 2022. We wish to trade our way to recovery.
“However, pubs and brewers will need more certainty going forwards to allow businesses and customers to plan ahead with confidence.”
New restrictions have now come into effect in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland after Christmas, with social distancing and tables of six rules put back into effect. Nightclubs have been closed in Wales and Scotland, while those in Northern Ireland will be prohibited from dancing in hospitality venues, unless it is a wedding.
Concern around the Omicron variant ahead of Christmas saw hospitality businesses experience disastrous levels of cancellations, with many businesses announcing that they would be closing over the festive season in response.