'July can't come soon enough' - pubs and cafes have their say after four-week delay is confirmed

In an announcement that many were expecting the government has delayed its plans for a full lifting of Covid restrictions by a month.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 2:14 pm
Updated Thursday, 17th June 2021, 2:16 pm
Dana Russell and staff at Queen's Mill Tea Rooms

The cautious approach will allow more people to receive vaccines and is intended to hinder the spread of the Delta variant.

But it means businesses have another challenge to face and some are set to struggle.

Many see it as a cautious step that will help to avoid another full lockdown.

Alex McHale, who runs Maud’s Cafe in Pontefract, said: “This was expected to be honest after all the news and the rise of cases.

“All that I ask personally is that we don’t take a step backwards.

“That would be potentially even more damaging than the initial lockdowns.

“I’m sure I’m not the only one who has spent thousands upon thousands of pounds restocking their premises, repairing machinery that may not work correctly due to not being used for six months, building repairs, et cetera.

“To me, the numbers suggest that we are doing something right.

“Yes, there seems to be an increase of positive tests at the moment, but on the flip side of that coin, people seem to be recovering.

“Hospitals aren’t seeing as many admissions, therefore they won’t get overwhelmed and we can deal with the matter at hand more efficiently.

“Overall, I think the majority of people will still sacrifice willingly their right to move 100 per cent freely inside bars and cafes for the greater good of getting rid of this forever.”

Scott Wilson, landlord of Pontefract’s Liquorice Bush, Beast Vaults and Red Lion, said hospitality continued to bear brunt of the government’s decisions.

He said: “Things are going well, I think that any delay was inevitable, and yet again the hospitality industry will be the ones to suffer.

“The restrictions have already had a huge effect on pubs, and people have got used to sitting at home drinking, rather than going out and being told what to do all the time.

“We can only hope this will be the end of it, because things cannot carry on as they are.

“Table service is crippling the hospitality industry, wage bills have doubled to accommodate it, but revenue has decreased.

“The public are ready to move on, they’ve had enough.”

Richard Hammill, chief operating officer at Pontefract Racecourse, said: “While it’s disappointing that there will be a delay to restrictions being lifted, the safety of spectators and anyone visiting the racecourse remains our prime concern.

“The delay is not entirely unexpected and we have been selling tickets for our forthcoming race meetings on Monday, June 28 and Tuesday, July 6 on the basis that we would have restrictions on our capacities.

“We hope that new cases are kept under control which will allow us to open up more areas of the racecourse later in the year.”

Dana Russell, who runs Queen’s Mill Tea Rooms in Castleford, said: “It’s been both heartening to have such loyal support from my customers and disheartening to keep clipping our wings mid flight so to speak.

“Just like everyone we are fed up now but do understand why we have delays once again.

“Safety has to come first. July 19 can’t come soon enough.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted that the unlocking will take place next month.