On Monday the 17th of May, lockdown restrictions eased in England, Wales and most of Scotland. This represents the biggest relaxation of rules to date and means that not only can we now visit pubs and restaurants indoors, but also socialise indoors (in groups of up to six or two households) and visit museums, cinemas and gyms.

It has been an incredibly tough time for the people of Greater Manchester. We have been particularly hard hit by COVID-19 restrictions and have been in some form of lockdown since the 29th July 2020. We have had to fight for proper financial support during this period, and many of us have had to make painful changes to our way of living. We’ve missed loved ones, changed the way we worked, and have faced extreme levels of social and financial uncertainty.

This milestone, therefore, needs to be recognised. Slowly but surely, our sacrifices are paying off and we are beginning to see a glimpse of the freedoms we enjoyed before the pandemic started.

There is, of course, still reason to be cautious. The spread of the Delta variant of Coronavirus is cause for concern, and we need to make sure that we enjoy these lifted restrictions whilst still being responsible and safe. Only by doing so can we continue on the roadmap and lift more restrictions on June 21st.

That being said, I would encourage anyone who can to support our hospitality businesses. It has been a devastating year for the hospitality industry. Last year, it is estimated that the tourism, hospitality, and leisure industry in Greater Manchester lost over 61% of its £9 billion annual economic value. With over 100,000 people employed in this sector across Greater Manchester, it’s vital that we give them the support that they desperately need.

The message I want to send to people across Greater Manchester is clear; be safe, but enjoy. It has been a long and difficult battle to get to this stage, and we deserve to acknowledge the extraordinary work we have all done to reach this point. That’s why, whatever your tipple, this week I would urge you to raise a glass to the return of Greater Manchester’s exceptional hospitality industry.

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