Opening up the economy – by ending “virtually all government mandates to control the spread of the coronavirus.”
“Doing away with them has nothing to do with the economy or people’s mental health; it is motivated by ideology.”
Looking to the future, is the UK “stuck in Victorian times when it comes to our attitude to hospitality workers”? Or will there be a new norm for our hospitality industry?
The international media has been following the PM’s press conference:
LONDON — Boris Johnson on Monday announced that Britain was set to soon end virtually all government mandates to control the spread of the coronavirus, telling people that in two weeks it would likely be completely up to them whether to wear a face mask or socially distance.
Indeed, the rest of the world is watching:
Britain therefore provides a vital test case for the world in the closely watched battle between vaccines and variants: the first example of a highly vaccinated major nation tackling a spike of this more transmissible new strain of Covid-19, without imposing new restrictions on the population.
The UK “is a testing ground for how vaccines are coping”:
LONDON—As the Delta variant of the coronavirus surges through the U.K., almost half of the country’s recent Covid-19 deaths are of people who have been vaccinated. But doctors and scientists aren’t sounding the alarm about the apparently high proportion of deaths among the vaccinated population. On the contrary, they say the figures so far offer reassurance that vaccines offer substantial protection against the variant.
However, there is clearly not a consensus among the same doctors and scientists:
Pivoting to protective measures as the country emerges from restrictive lockdowns is an approach echoed by the British Medical Association (BMA), which is urging the government not to “throw progress away” and maintain some targeted methods to limit the spread of Covid-19 after July 19.
Several open letters have been going to the Health Minister over the last couple of days:
Much of this is political of course – as noted by the Guardian’s Science Correspondent:
Other measures, however, such as the wearing of masks, are a mere inconvenience for most people, but they do reduce transmission – particularly indoors, when coronavirus cases are high. Doing away with them has nothing to do with the economy or people’s mental health; it is motivated by ideology.
The Telegraph’s Global Health Security Editor says the government approach is very political indeed:
“Changing course in policy making when new or better information is incorporated is an essential feature of good policy making… politicians find it hard…. [but] it can be made easier through a focus on storytelling, on reframing.”
These are the musings of the new Health Secretary, Savid Javid, in a paper he wrote on the pandemic as a Harvard fellow during his recent gap year. It comes under the heading “U-turns or flip-flopping”, and those who read the paper in full will find Mr Javid has become a black-belt in the dark arts of behavioural science or nudge theory…
On Monday evening the Prime Minister briefed the nation on the latest plans for Freedom Day, now scheduled for July 19… Will any of this actually happen on July 19? We shall have to wait and see, but from my reading of the runes there are reasons to be apprehensive.
First, consider the “framing”. The spin coming out of Downing Street over the last 48 hours has focused on anything but the law. In its place is a new emphasis on the faux totem of face-masks (you won’t have to wear them except in the only places you already do) and on “personal responsibility” – something we all abandoned in March 2020, apparently…
Meanwhile, how are things in the South West?
Not that good – as reported in the international and national press:
The local press is worried about the impact of the virus:
The county council provides a good place to go for data:
But, clearly it’s the economy, stupid, as councils and businesses try to look forward:
Although it doesn’t help when local businesses ask a little too much:
What about the long-term effect on the local economy?
BBC Spotlight this evening looked at how long-Covid might strike staff and so affect the ability of the hospitality industry to recover – an industry which has already been struggling:
Last month, the head of Hospitality UK warned that the industry is facing huge levels of long-term debt as the economy reopens:
And a couple of days ago, the industry was warning about the impact of the test and trace system::
St Austell Brewery said: “We are faced with a labour crisis.” The trend for people to go on holiday in Devon and Cornwall had led to growing demand, it said, but “we simply cannot find enough people to meet that demand. This has led to us having to make difficult operational decisions, including reducing our opening hours and food service times. In some cases, where large numbers of our teams have been alerted by the test and trace app, we’ve been forced to close pubs”.
There are mixed signals out today on the issue of staff having to isolate following a positive test:
It will still be a legal requirement to self isolate after testing positive for COVID-19 or when instructed to by the government’s test and trace system. However, the government intends to exempt those who have had two vaccine doses from the need to self isolate if they have been identified as a contact of someone with COVID.
Or maybe things are clear after all, as reported by Devon Live today:
The Government is reportedly considering scrapping the use of NHS Track and Trace app QR codes in bars, restaurants and other venues as part of its July 19 plan for ending Covid-19 coronavirus restrictions in England.
It comes after Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said pubs were “closing or greatly reducing their opening hours due to staff shortages caused by app pings”, despite staff testing negative for coronavirus using quick-result tests.
Now The Sunday Times has reported that the need to scan a QR code before entering bars, restaurants and other venues, such as museums, will become a thing of the past after July 19 – a change that would mean less chance of punters and staff being told to self-isolate by Test and Trace.
It seems, though, that the hospitality industry, the mainstay of the South West’s economy, should be able to breathe again as we all go down the pub:
However, the economy is changing in the South West.
The traditionally low-wage hospitality industry is having to adjust:
Jamie Rogers is a former semi-finalist in the BBC’s Masterchef: The Professionals, and the founder of an award-winning restaurant called Twenty Seven, located in the south Devon town of Kingsbridge. As it reopened for business after the recent lockdown, a handful of staff handed in their notice. As he told me last week, he then began to explore what was happening in his part of the economy, and was confronted with huge changes: “Jobs that were worth £10 an hour last year are suddenly paying double that.”
And along with that will come an increase in status and respect for those working in the industry, with a very challenging perspective from Devon Live:
Perhaps another result of the pandemic will be a new norm for our hospitality industry. And maybe we need to follow the lead of some European countries who have a totally different perspective to the hospitality industry. Not only are staff paid better but they are treated like professionals.
They don’t take well to rude customers and have more of a “take it or leave it” attitude when it comes to the menu. And while restaurants in some holiday spots open seven-days-a-week, others are unapologetic about closing to give their staff some time off.
But the UK seems to be stuck in Victorian times when it comes to our attitude to hospitality workers…
Finally, in parallel, there is a growing respect for the small, independent local food producer:
Devon’s farmers are calling on shoppers to continue to ‘buy local’ as the lockdown eases and indoor hospitality reopens. Farm shops and independent food stores played a vital role during the Covid-19 pandemic, easing pressure on larger retailers when the usual supply chains were disrupted. They proved to be adaptable, catering to customer requests and developing delivery and collection systems, and helped shoppers reconnect to local food…
Research carried out during the lockdown by the University of Exeter and the Rural Group of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership found that shortening food supply chains and improving local public procurement could provide a significant economic boost to the recovering economy…