Washington hospitality businesses react to ‘an extension of the nightmare’ as Freedom Day is delayed
Businesses in Washington’s hospitality industry have been giving their opinions on the Government’s decision to delay the full lifting of Covid restrictions.
On June 14, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that full easing of restrictions would be postponed until July 19, rather than the scheduled June 21.
This is to allow for a greater number of people to be vaccinated with cases rising due to the Delta variant, cases are growing by about 64% per week.
While hotels, restaurants, pubs and other venues are still able to open, they will remain restricted in the numbers they can allow into their premises, while social distancing, the rule of six, table-only service and other rules remain in place.
Stephen Stronach, tenant at the Biddick Inn on Bonemill Lane is very unhappy with the situation and worried about the ongoing financial implications.
He said: “It’s an extension of the nightmare we’ve had for the last 15 months. We’re operating at about 60% capacity here, but paying getting on for double in wages. I’m totally unhappy.
“I didn’t think we’d be back to normal straight away, but now we’ve got another month of this – at least.”
Joanne Wood manages the Wheelhouse pub in Albany, which is also a wedding venue. She is neither happy nor surprised that a full unlock is still a way off.
She said: “I’m really disappointed that it’s been put back. It’s frustrating, but it is what it is. We’ve put up with it for this long.
“It wasn’t a huge shock and I’ve been dubious about taking bookings anyway because of the uncertainty.”
However, Wayne Kennedy owner of the Forge restaurant and Green Tea Room, both in Washington Village, is far less worried by the postponement.
He said: “We’ve always said if it’s for the greater good then so be it. We’re better off doing this than going into another lockdown. We’re happy to facilitate what they want us to do.
“We’ve never stopped working. We can still get people in and are not in the position where we have to stop trading. We’re lucky to have lots of outdoor tables and that it’s summer.
"Hopefully it will still be summer when we open fully again.”