Hoteliers in Bristol welcomed this week’s announcement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson that ‘Freedom Day’ is set to happen on 19 July.
Mr Johnson said the country is on track to reach the next milestone on the ‘roadmap to recovery’ and that most lockdown restrictions will be lifted.
It means face masks will no longer be legally required, social distancing rules will be scrapped, table service rules at bars and restaurants will end, drinks at the bar will return and the limit on the numbers of people able to attend weddings will also be lifted.
Raphael Herzog, chair of the Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA), welcomed Mr Johnson’s announcement.
He said: “It’s time to re-open. As the Prime Minister himself said, if we don’t go ahead now, when would we go ahead? We need to live with the virus now and fight it through the vaccine and through people using common sense. It might be that we do maintain some Covid-19 restrictions, to protect not only our guests but our staff, too. This includes maintaining a cash-less environment, not entering guest bedrooms while they are staying, which means only cleaning rooms on departure or request, no buffet self-service (table service only), the continued use of sanitising stations and other measures.”
“But we welcome the removal of social distancing, which will be the biggest win for everyone, along with the ability to host large conferences and weddings. It also means we can start to look ahead and plan properly for what we hope will be a very busy Christmas party season this year, too, as people make up for what they have missed out on in 2020.”
Mr Herzog said the biggest challenge now facing hotels and other hospitality businesses remains being able to recruit the staff they need in order to provide the levels of service customers will expect.
A combination of the coronavirus and Brexit, affecting the ability of Europeans to work in the UK hospitality industry, has left a shortage of staff and businesses are working tirelessly to find they staff they need.
Mr Herzog said: “We are meeting the newly-elected West of England Mayor Dan Norris this Friday (July 9) to discuss the staffing crisis and see what he can do to support. We’re working extremely hard to promote the hospitality industry as a sector which offers rewarding and enjoyable long-term careers, rather than short-term jobs for students. While hospitality does provide many young people their first step into the world of work. It’s more important than ever to show them that there is a wide range of diverse, long-term, career opportunities and fantastic experiences to be had within our dynamic and diverse sector.”