Jonathan Walker

Author - Jonathan Walker

Freedom is going to have to wait a little bit longer…

Jonathan Walker's latest column for the Journal

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So it looks like freedom is going to have to wait a little bit longer.

Not that the Prime Minister’s announcement came as a massive shock, especially as we’re all now accustomed to getting our lockdown news from anywhere other than official channels.

It may surprise regular readers of these columns to find out I am not an epidemiologist, and so I will leave discussion of variants, transmissibility and R numbers to those who know what they’re talking about.

From my side of things however, it is clear that the delay to the lifting of restrictions is another blow to those businesses who have been placed under the most severe strain over the past 16 months.

The resilience and determination shown by those working in sectors such as leisure, culture and tourism has been incredible throughout the pandemic and I’m sure this will help them to ride out yet another period of restrictions.

Obviously, public health comes first and if this delay buys enough time for the vaccination programme to get on top of Covid once and for all then there’s every chance we’ll look back on it as a price worth paying. Nobody wants to see the reopening go into reverse.

Thankfully, we’ve been blessed with some decent weather over the last few weeks, which I’m sure has helped pubs and restaurants to make the most of any and all outside space they possess. There’s few better places to be during a great North East summer.

A decent run for England in the Euros won’t hurt beer sales either.

But despite all of this, I speak to plenty in the industry (and other sectors that are equally affected) and the current restrictions still make it incredibly difficult to make ends meet.

Hospitality and tourism aren’t luxuries, they are an essential part of our economy. I remember being taught that at its simplest level an economy is just lots of people bumping into each other and things happening (insert your own joke about nightclubs here).

Without those interactions, our economy and society are poorer. This is why there is a massive onus on Government to put the right assistance in place to ensure there is a vibrant hospitality sector to return to when we fully emerge from lockdown, and also on all of us to brave the sun/rain/wind/snow over the next few weeks and support vital local businesses.

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