Today, then, marks the first of two days of reckoning ahead of the exit from lockdown, the second being the Budget on 3rd March.
Today, prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to set out the roadmap ahead for the re-opening of business and the start of the rebuilding of the economy. The plan was due to be signed off yesterday at a meeting of the cabinet committee on coronavirus strategy.
The prime minister will make an announcement in the House of Commons this afternoon, then address the nation this evening.
The signs aren’t good, though, if the Fleet Street chaps are anything to go by. They have a (leaked?) timetable which sees pubs remaining closed until May, unless they can open outside in April. But will there be an announcement on take-away? We must wait and see.
Writing for The Sun, Greene King chief executive, Nick Mackenzie, said: “We believe there is no justification to treat hospitality differently from non-essential retail in terms of re-opening.
“It goes without saying the health of the nation is paramount, and we absolutely support the need for measures to stem the rate of infections, however difficult it is for businesses. But hospitality has been bounced around with constantly changing policies, despite the sector having invested millions of pounds last year to make venues safe for our teams and our customers.
“Speaking with our tenants, I know how much of a strain this has been on them. One recently said the previous restrictions were like a ‘slow death’ for her business. It was heart-breaking to hear her describe the toll of trading under the heavy restrictions and the impact on the local community of losing its social hub. Another cannot afford to turn on the heating in his pub, which is also his home.
“These are just two examples from our 1,000 tenants and 40,000-strong workforce. Many other people have suffered financial pain and personal hardship.”