‘It’s a disgrace’: Chesterfield business owners voice anger over lockdown easing delay

Derbyshire business owners have hit out after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a delay to the lifting of remaining coronavirus restrictions.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 2:05 pm

Covid-19 measures in England had been due to come to an end on June 21 – but Mr Johnson told the nation on Monday that restrictions would be in effect until July 19 amid concerns about the Delta variant first identified in India.

Limits on numbers for pubs, theatres, cinemas and sports events will remain in place – while nightclubs will stay shuttered.

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Steve Perez.
Steve Perez.

Steve Perez, who owns Casa Hotel in Chesterfield and Peak Edge Hotel in Stone Edge, described the delay as a ‘disgrace’.

"I’m very disappointed,” he said.

“The hospitality industry has been absolutely devastated by this pandemic.

“There's this delay and, from the beginning of July, we have to start paying rates again and VAT goes up.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture by Justin Tallis - WPA Pool/Getty Images.

“It’s unsustainable, we can’t carry on like this.

“Thousands upon thousands of businesses are going to go bust unless the Government gives proper financial support.”

He also attacked Labour for being a ‘weak opposition’ to the Government.

Shaun Stevenson is creator of the Chesterfield Great Historic Pub Tour, which launched in 2019.

Shoppers in Chesterfield town centre.

He said: “We are extremely disappointed that the Government has seen fit to delay the removal of the restrictions.

“Last year we were unable to run any tours and while our publican partners are unable to accept larger groups we cannot start our 2021 season.

“The hospitality trade is really suffering – providing table service for everyone is extremely taxing for the existing staff and new staff are very hard to recruit.

“Personally I would like to see an environment where people are free to to assess their own level of risk – those who are fully vaccinated should be able to go about their day.

Stainsby Festival celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018.

“I understand that we were trying to protect the general public but I also believe we are building up a body of unintended consequences, a terrible backlog of serious illnesses like cancer and also delays for people seeking help with mental health issues, exacerbated by continued lockdowns.”

Giacchino Livoti, of Vibe bar in Chesterfield town centre, said: “Vibe and Bar 21 are naturally disappointed at the delay in lifting the lockdown for nightclubs.

“However, we understand the reasoning behind the decision and on balance support it because it will provide additional time to vaccinate at least 90 per cent of over-18s.

“Patrons will thereafter be able to freely socialise while protected by the vaccinations and once again enjoy Chesterfield town centre night-time entertainment.”

Pub landlord Lewis Brown, who runs The Hop Flower at Inkersall, added: “While the Government’s decision to extend current restrictions is disappointing, we have to accept these rules need to be lifted when the statistics make it viable to do so.

“For now we are just happy to be back open, adapting to the guidelines and making an honest living again.”

The popular Y Not Festival is one of the many events planned for Chesterfield and the Peak District this year.

Scott Knowles, chief executive of Derbyshire’s chamber of commerce, called for this to be the ‘final delay to lockdown restrictions’.

He said: “The announcement that coronavirus restrictions will no longer end on June 21 is a huge disappointment to everyone and means businesses will have to stagger on for four weeks longer than they’d anticipated.

“Without proper support, for some this may prove to be one setback too many.

“The Government must now postpone the tapering of furlough, which was due to commence on July 1, for the duration of the extension to the roadmap, while grants would also help many of these businesses that have lost both expenditure and expected income.

“This must be the final delay to lockdown restrictions and, indeed, the four weeks should be a maximum period.

“The Prime Minister has consistently said his policy would be dictated by ‘data, not dates’ – therefore if the increase in Covid-19 cases doesn’t translate into significant numbers of hospitalisations and deaths, we would expect stage four of the roadmap to commence at the earliest opportunity.”

Shortly before Mr Johnson’s announcement, Chesterfield Royal Hospital confirmed it had no Covid-19 patients.

Meanwhile, Stainsby Festival will not be going ahead between July 16 and 18.

In a statement, organisers said: "The extension to the lockdown rules means they don’t expire until the day after the festival is supposed to finish – and there’s no guarantee they won’t be extended again.

“So, thanks to the Government's announcement, we’re not on.

“We are gutted.

“To make sure Stainsby has a future beyond this crisis, we’re not going to try and throw money we don’t have – and won’t get back – at any cobbled together alternative that might or might not work.

“If we can do something special, we will – and we’ll let you know.

“Whatever we do, we want to be sure we protect all of you – the whole Stainsby family – and see the festival back in full health when all this is over.”

Y Not Festival is scheduled to take place in Pikehall on July 30 to August 1, with acts including Stereophonics and Manic Street Preachers.

However, uncertainty now surrounds the event.

A spokesperson for Y Not said: “We are so grateful for everyone's continued support and would therefore like to ask for your patience at this time to allow us to process the information, so we can make the best decision possible having heard the full breakdown of (the Government's) announcement.

“We will be back with another statement outlining our intentions as soon as we can.

“We’d like to stress that the health and safety of our customers and staff always comes first.

“Should we have to cancel, there will be a chance to roll over your tickets to Y Not Festival 2022, and a chance to claim a full refund for those who need it.

“Thanks for sticking with us through thick and thin.”

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The Y Not music festival is due to return to Pikehall, near Matlock, on July 31 and August 1.