YORK'S hospitality and events businesses have been dealt another blow with a four-week delay to the final stage of the recovery roadmap.

All eyes were on the prime minister on Monday when he confirmed he was delaying the anticipated lifting of most of the remaining restrictions on June 21 until July 19 due to a spike in Delta variant cases.

Some rules for weddings, wakes and care home residents will be removed.

Although there had been lots of speculation over the weekend about Boris Johnson's next move, the announcement was still met with dismay in York.

John Lowery, director of operations at York-based Events By Cynosure, admitted he was starting to have sleepless nights.

His company provides fairground rides to events such as Christmas Markets and stages crowd-pulling events such as the Yorkshire Balloon Fiesta, which has been postponed from May to August because of the pandemic.

“I fully understand the delay of four weeks to help get more people vaccinated," he said.

"However this must be the end of the lockdown especially for my own industry events.

"We are due to present the North’s largest balloon fiesta on the August Bank Holiday at a cost of over £200,000 with deposits already paid out and many more invoices due to arrive shortly.

"I am now starting to have sleepless nights as, whilst Boris might say we are all ok, we then need local authorities to say they are ok too.

"But I want to make sure York is the place to be for the August Bank Holiday and in turn help other businesses with our visitors using hotels, camp sites, bars and shops."

The Federation of Small Business has called for targeted support and stressed that July 19 must be the final date for when these restrictions will be lifted.

Pubs such as the Rook & Gaskill, in Lawrence Street, took to social media to question why hospitality was considered unsafe to open properly.

Rebecca Hill, the owner of Galtres Lodge Hotel and Forest restaurant in York, said: "For us, last night’s update was difficult but not devastating, although we appreciate that won't be the case for everyone.

York Press:

"The lifting of restrictions would make things easier, of course, and bring the sense of normality that many are craving.

"Working in hospitality, we’ve been missing the non-verbal contact, such as smiling, that are key to forming connections with our guests.

"We do, however, understand the need to follow precautions, and we have effective measures in place throughout our venue, which we’ll continue to adhere to until lockdown is lifted for good.

"We hope our wonderful customers will continue to bear with us knowing that these measures aren’t permanent and that we’re doing our best to ensure safe service for everybody."

Graham Usher, of the Drovers Arms, Skipwith, said they had not been working towards June 21 due to experience of late rule changes.

“We would almost have set ourselves up to fail if we had.”

He said his industry was in turmoil when the pandemic first took hold in March 2020 but businesses were getting used to new ways of working.

He said many operators had “got their heads” around new ways of managing, in terms of customer numbers, staffing, stock and cash flow.

“We have had to make changes to ensure we can sustain ourselves,” he said. “If we can stay as we are now and keep that momentum going, the majority of businesses will continue to trade and keep their doors open.”

Graham said it was important to remain positive, in particular for staff who interact with guests. “We have to plough on otherwise the industry will really struggle. If we are not positive we will stifle our own industry if we are not careful.”


 Has your business been affected? Get in touch with our business editor on email at Nadia.jeffersonbrown@thepress.co.uk