This afternoon, Boris Johnson is expected to announce that Covid restrictions in England will finally draw to a close on July 19th. We asked small business and charity owners from around the country what it would mean for them.
22 responses from the Newspage community
"Freedom Day and football coming home in the same month. What a result that would be. I'm especially pleased for businesses in the hospitality, events and entertainment industries, which have been hit disproportionately hard since March of last year. Hopefully the nightmare is coming to an end."
"A final unlocking of the country will remove all the uncertainty that businesses are feeling, and give companies the chance to start to plan for the future again, as opposed to lurching from one month to the next with little sense of direction and everything up in the air. "Things have been hanging in the balance for so long, burning up an energy that would have been better employed building business back up again."
"If anyone thinks Freedom Day is going to be a panacea for the average UK business, they're going to be sorely disappointed. Many small businesses have been a shadow of themselves for the past 18 months and the hard work to rebuild is only just beginning. Stress and burnout could be the next pandemic for already overwhelmed and overstretched business owners."
"Every small business owner is praying for Freedom Day to arrive. Equally, don't expect many businesses to suddenly hang out the bunting, because the hard work still lies ahead. Many of the retail, hospitality and leisure businesses we work with have had their finances holed under the waterline by the pandemic and their fortunes aren't going to suddenly transform overnight."
"Everyone wants Freedom Day, but let's hope it doesn't blow up spectacularly in our faces. It will be a total bloody nightmare for the hospitality industry if lifting restrictions fuels the fire of COVID-19, but self-isolating rules remain the same. "Yes, it sounds awesome to be able to operate at higher capacity, but we are already on our knees in Salcombe. We have small businesses closed or operating on reduced hours because track and trace are telling staff to self-isolate. "Housekeeping teams cannot continue to service holiday homes if they simply don’t have the numbers to do so. We are expecting many toys to be thrown out of multi-million pound prams for those unable to check-in to their luxury holiday homes."
"The end of England's COVID-19 restrictions will be a huge step forward for my small travel-related business. We've been waiting for this day for so long and every one of us will have our fingers crossed that nothing happens in the next week or two to derail things yet again."
"When Freedom Day does finally arrive, hopefully on 19 July, a lot of the work and lifestyle changes that have emerged over the past 18 months will remain firmly in place. Even with a full lifting of restrictions, we are still planning to allow a fair degree of remote working for our team, and will advise more clients using video calls going forward than we did before the pandemic."
"Many online retail businesses, like my own, are definitely worried that Freedom Day, when it does come, could apply the financial handcuffs as people gravitate back towards bricks and mortar. I'm lucky to have seen huge demand over the past 18 months and am intrigued to see if people's buying habits have changed."
"The thing I am most hopeful for is the confidence from Boris that we can trust in the vaccines and that, while some people may wish to continue wearing face masks, the choice will be there for many 'smiles' to return to coffee shops, pubs and restaurants across the UK. "Our service can hopefully return to a sense of normal. We're a licensed coffee house and so the impact of the restrictions has meant that our business couldn't operation like other coffee houses that don't have an alcohol license. "This directly impacts labour and puts extra strain on an already stressed labour market for hospitality.
"We work with older people, many of whom classify themselves as vulnerable, and so Freedom Day couldn't come any sooner. It's been a long wait and the end of restrictions will help to get our business back on track."
"Freedom Day? Bring it on. I for one can't wait. Most of my team are now double-jabbed (or will be by the 19th) so will hopefully be able to meet clients in person again over a tea, coffee or, more likely, pint of beer. That said, we may still be elbow bumping instead of shaking hands for some time yet."
"Humans are social creatures at heart and all businesses are looking forward to the restrictions being lifted. As an HR, dealing with often delicate issues, being face-to-face enables you to read things far more effectively. While the Zoomification of business is going nowhere, Zoom isn't appropriate for all the situations that arise in day to day business life. "Facilitating difficult meetings, such as redundancy consultations, grievances and furlough conversations, has been unchartered territory for many HR professionals and managers over the past 18 months."
"Everyone wants restrictions to finally end, and is rooting for businesses in the sectors that have been hardest hit. At the same time, many Covid-born businesses like my own are apprehensive about what it could mean for them. We've been fortunate to grow during the pandemic so it will be interesting to see if the need for sending gifts in the post is still there for companies wanting to stay connected to colleagues."
"If businesses can once again provide services in the way they did pre-Covid, then bring it on. I suspect mask wearing will have a bit more of a mixed response with half of the population feeling free, and half feeling less safe within physical premises."
"When the first national lockdown struck in 2020, our fundraising and income disappeared overnight and the charity is still 61% down on income so far this year. We hope the easing of restrictions will see a return of our usual fundraising and events and finally kickstart income, helping us to cope with the soaring demand for financial and emotional support due to the added impact of shielding, furlough and delays in treatment."
"Our gift reps will finally be able to take our brand new activity book for Alzheimer's and the elderly into Care homes and hospitals. The book, which has been created with psychologists, care workers and Alzheimer's sufferers, offers 56 pages of large print, easy (but not childish) word puzzles and blank pages for people's own creations. With restrictions lifting, the book will be able to go direct to the people that really need it."
It’s important to remember that the PM is announcing the end of legal restrictions and we’re hoping that employers continue to opt-in to the already positive changes that they’ve made beyond 19th July! We have all learnt so many lessons since 2020 on how to better engage with employees, whether that’s through new technology or hybrid working, and those that choose to ditch this will see detrimental effects on their business. However, employees will still need to be convinced now more than ever that their best interests are being considered when returning to the office and not based on profit alone.
"Further easing of restrictions, or a full end to them, will definitely have a positive effect on live entertainment but this will be tempered by a lack of detail, a lack of clarity and the total failure of the Government to provide any kind of COVID insurance coverage for venues, producers and performers. For me, this announcement is 'all personality, zero precision."
"When all the restrictions are finally lifted, it will mean we are able to support the industries that have suffered the most, specifically hospitality and events. I know we are all looking forward to holding and attending in-person events, not just to support other businesses, but to help ourselves after a year and a half of feeling isolated."
"If Freedom Day is finally approaching, that's fantastic news for every business owner. My only worry is that we are moving too fast too soon, with the result that we end up in another lockdown. That would be the final straw for a significant number of businesses."
As a training and coaching company, SuperStar Communicator aims for our attendees to feel safe and secure, to the learning outcomes are maximised. I realise we need to re-assure our clients and attendees they are safe. But for those who don't wish to attend in real life, we have to make 'hybrid learning' provision for them. The next challenge but we'll be thrilled to be in person again!
Our consulting and software business have seen unprecedented growth since January, we are excited to see the government being forward thinking - We hope for a safe return to normal working practices