‘Sigh of relief’ from Brighton and Hove businesses as July 19 approaches

There will be ‘a large collective sigh of relief’ from hospitality and night-life businesses in the city when remaining covid restrictions are finally lifted on July 19, a representative has said.

Thursday, 8th July 2021, 5:06 pm
A busy night pre-covid at the Hope and Ruin
A busy night pre-covid at the Hope and Ruin

However, with virus cases continuing to rise, people in the industry are aware that there is ‘still a long way to go’.

Polly Miles from Acid Box Promotions, which promotes live music in the city at venues such as the Hope and Ruin, said it would be ‘great’ to see people returning to gigs and events.

“Everyone has really struggled, mentally and financially,” she said.

“It’s going to be a joyous return. We have to embrace it as much as we can.

“Hopefully people are ready to support the scene more than ever – it’s really needed.”

Most venues have had to operate at reduced capacity in recent weeks, if at all, with ‘not much support’ from the Government.

“I feel everyone is very much ready for it,” she said. “It’s going to be quite the party.”

At the same time, Polly said it was ‘a little worrying’ that so many people were currently self-isolating as virus cases increase.

Gavin Stewart, chief executive of the Brighton Business Improvement District, said: “Although retailers and many hospitality venues have been making hay while the sun shone since the last lock down measures were relaxed, there will be a large collective sigh of relief from the industry when the final measures are removed on the 19th July.

“Many in the night-time economy particularly are looking forward to opening their doors again and welcoming their customers back safely.

“However, with increased Covid variant cases predicted, that sigh of relief isn’t without the awareness that there is still a way to go.

“For a city that relies so heavily on hospitality, it’s crucial that visitors feel safe so that we can capitalize on the summer staycation market and return visits.”

The leader of the council, Phelim Mac Cafferty, urged people to ‘stay cautious’ and protect themselves from covid.

He said: “The surge in cases in our city is serious – and is why I’ve instructed the chief executive to contact government officials about more support for our city.

“This weekend more mobile testing units will be accessible at the Peace Statue and Jubilee Square, and we’re encouraging young people – particularly those working in the hospitality and service industry – to come forward for an asymptomatic PCR test.

“There’s also greater opportunity to get your first or second dose vaccine, as walk-in vaccination services are springing up across the city this weekend.

“We know too that after hard-won efforts to reopen, businesses don’t want to throw caution to the wind – and want to be sensible about keeping some measures.

“We’re developing ways we can highlight the steps venues are taking to encourage customer confidence, and we know

basic protection like mask wearing, keeping spaces ventilated and washing our hands has a positive impact.

“More people are being asked to self-isolate as they contract Covid-19, and with rising levels of sickness and many still awaiting their vaccination, there’s still very good reason to protect ourselves and our loved ones from catching Covid-19.

“After everything we’ve all done to stop the worst of the pandemic, more people off sick will only mean a step backwards if yet more venues have to close or hospital procedures are delayed.

“With the highly transmissible Delta variant, and at the exact time our economy needs a boost, we must keep protecting each other from the virus and stay cautious.

“I’m clear we can still wear masks, socially distance, wash our hands and keep spaces well ventilated, to keep each other safe.

“I know we can still work together to suppress the virus and keep our city on its feet.”