'It's excellent news' - Hartlepool hospitality chief welcomes lifting of restrictions on Freedom Day
A spokesman for Hartlepool’s hospitality sector has welcomed confirmation that most coronavirus restrictions will soon be lifted.
The chairman of Hartlepool Licensees Association, Darab Rezai described the announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as “excellent news” for the hospitality industry and country’s whole economy.
Mr Johnson confirmed on Monday that the so-called Freedom Day on Monday, July 19, will see the lifting of measures including all legal limits on the number of people meeting indoors and outdoors and social distancing.
It will also mean an end of table only service in bars and restaurants and limit on customer numbers.
The wearing of face coverings will also become a personal choice.
Mr Rezai said: “I think it’s excellent news that we’re going to open the country for trade. It will help tremendously hospitality as well as retail which go hand in hand.
"We’re hoping that the whole country will open up and people will go back to work with everybody helping each other and bring the country to where it was, the fifth biggest economy in the world.”
Mr Rezai said businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic and a return to normality is needed to boost employment and for operators to be able to repay government loans they have taken out to survive.
“Everybody has borrowed money to get through this pandemic and tough times,” he said. "Very soon everybody has got to start paying it back.
"That can only happen if they have got the customers.”
But he added the hospitality industry needs to learn to live with Covid while continuing to be cautious and that individuals still need to self-isolate where necessary.
Mr Rezai, owner of The Harbour View restaurant, at Hartlepool Marina, added: “We have got to live with Covid-19. This is something [here] to stay. We’ve got to be cautious and follow good hygiene and if positive people have got to isolate.
"We’ve got to be careful but it can only be a good thing for everybody. This means that nightclubs and theatres can open.
"Hopefully they can see full capacities again.”
Although cases of the virus caused by the Delta variant are on the increase, Mr Johnson said the time had come to balance the risks of the disease with the impact of restrictions on people’s lives.