“The Government’s measured roadmap will allow us all to move forwards with confidence”
SOUTH Devon has set out on the road to a ‘summer of hope’ after the Prime Minister finally opened his roadmap to bring the nation out of the coronavirus lockdown.
Local tourism and hospitality businesses hit hardest by the restrictions of the past year began planning re-opening dates within minutes of the Downing Street announcement.
“There is light ahead,” said Carolyn Custerson, chief executive of the English Riviera BID tourism organisation. “This is our summer of hope.
“The Government’s measured roadmap will allow us all to move forwards with confidence.”
“People will not be travelling abroad in the numbers they have previously, and this summer is a fantastic opportunity for us to welcome many new visitors and really show them just how very special the English Riviera is.
“Shouting from the rooftops about how fantastic our resort is for a staycation holiday will now be our top priority.”
In the first 12 hours after the Monday evening announcement the English Riviera’s official website saw a 68 per cent spike in traffic.
The roadmap means that from April 12 the resort will start to come to life again with self-catering holiday accommodation and outdoor service in pubs and restaurants. Paignton Zoo will be allowed to re-open, albeit with some Covid restrictions continuing.
“This partial opening is really welcomed,” said Mrs Custerson. “Local hospitality businesses have suffered like never before over the past 12 months with forced closure and thousands of local jobs being lost.”
From May 17 pubs and restaurants will be allowed to open for indoor service. Hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs will be allowed to open as will cinemas and theatres which have been closed for over 12 months.
“And then,” she added, “on June 21 we hopefully can all say goodbye to Covid restrictions once and for all and welcome back our nightclubs which have also not been able to open for over 12 months.
“The Government’s stepped pathway, however, will mean that some businesses have to remain closed for a little longer and we are all waiting keenly to hear what financial support will be announced in the Budget next week.”
Paignton Zoo will be ready to re-open on April 12, and a spokesman said: “We are pleased that we now have a re-opening date that we can work towards.
“We are very much looking forward to welcoming everyone back to the zoo to enjoy our open spaces. We have been working hard while we’ve been closed to make the experience a great and safe one for when visitors return.”
Local pubs have been hit hard by the lockdown restrictions, but are now looking forward to opening again in the spring.
Publican and writer Richard Molloy, who has pubs in St Marychurch and Teignmouth, said planning had already begun for events in the beer garden from April, and for inside the pub from June.
He added: “Then, hopefully, we can rip all the tape from the floor and have a proper party again.
“I think the June date is the real goal and I imagine it will be very emotional when people can shake hands and have a hug again. Can’t wait.”
Local barber shops and tattoo parlours were also taking to social media in the wake of the announcement, planning to open again on April 12.
Theatres can re-open from May 17. On the same date indoor mixing in pubs and restaurants will be allowed, and a limited number of fans will be allowed back inside Torquay United’s Plainmoor stadium for the team’s last home game of the season on May 22.
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