Lockdown relaxation welcomed

But support still needed for some in tourism industry

Opportunities to make the most of what remains of the summer season could arise as the government announces that the two metre social distancing rule is to be reduced to one metre on 4 July. The relaxation currently applies to England only, with Wales and Scotland announcing no changes to the social distancing rule at the time of writing.

As well as pubs, restaurants and hairdressers, the change will mean some leisure facilities and tourist attractions may also reopen, if they can do so safely. However, the Government will keep all measures under constant review and warns it will not hesitate to apply the handbrake, or reverse measures, should the virus begin to run out of control.

Responding to the Government’s announcement today that the social distancing 2metre rule will be eased, Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) Chief Executive, Graham Vidler, said: “The Prime Minister’s announcement heralds a significant opening up of further sections of the economy. Bus operators already have a comprehensive package of measures to ensure people can travel with confidence, such as cleaning regimes and cashless payment.

“It is important that the new rules on social distancing provide the flexibility to create additional safe bus capacity so that people take advantage of these new opportunities and maximise the economic benefits. We will be looking to discuss with the Department for Transport how the new rules will apply in practice on public transport.”

However, there is some concern over the effects of the lockdown on businesses that rely on inbound tourism. Joss Croft, CEO, Ukinbound, said: “We’re pleased that the Government has also listened to industry and is on the verge of agreeing ‘air corridors’ with a number of countries – a step that signals that the UK’s tourism inbound industry is keen to welcome international tourists again. Although these measures are very much to be welcomed, Government needs to recognise that while some businesses will hopefully be able to re-coup a small proportion of their losses over the much shorter summer season, many businesses, especially those that rely wholly or mostly on inbound tourism, will have gone through the equivalent of ‘three winters’ and will need further financial support if they are to survive and continue to drive jobs and growth across the UK.”

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