'It's no way to live': Leeds businesses call for an official end to Covid restrictions as Prime Minister announces Plan B measures will be dropped

Plan B measures aimed at tackling the spread of Covid-19 are to be dropped across England but Leeds businesses are calling on the Prime Minister to go further.

By Alex Grant
Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 4:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 5:18 pm

Boris Johnson addressed MPs in the House of Commons today revealing that more than 90 per cent of over-60s across the UK have now had booster vaccines to protect them, and that scientists believe that the Omicron wave has peaked.

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Prime Minister confirms Covid restrictions will be eased as Plan B measures drop...

From next Thursday people will no longer be told to work from home and mandatory Covid certification will end.

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Boris Johnson addressed MPs in the House of Commons today, announcing that Plan B measures will be officially dropped. Picture: UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor / PA Wire.

The call was welcomed by Martin Greenhow of Leeds' Mojo Bar but he feels it is time the Government goes that step further.

"It's a blessed relief if not somewhat overdue." he explained "We're not grateful because we feel rather badly done too but a relief to be putting it behind us, hopefully for good."

Mr Johnson who remains under pressure as the Downing Street 'partygate' fiasco rumbles highlighted his openness to soon removing all Covid-19 restrictions entirely.

And Mr Greenhow says it's a step that needs to happen sooner rather than later to safeguard the business sector.

For Matthew Fitzpatrick, Principal at Morley Newlands Academy, he fears lifting restrictions may be premature as the school currently tackles multiple Omicron outbreaks. Picture: James Hardisty.

"We need to be in a position where businesses aren't living with the type of damocles hanging over their heads that every time the government is fed a dodgy dossier of data that's telling them that the world is about to end, we shut down." he said.

"It's no way to run a country, no way to live and it's certainly not possible to run businesses long term like that."

For Russell Bisset, founder of Northern Monk, the news is welcome but stressed that it must be driven by the science.

“Overall we’re delighted to see Covid restrictions being lifted. January is a particularly difficult trading period for the industry, compounded by a festive period where we saw a lot of uncertainty." he said "As long as they are driven by science and data we welcome any changes that allow people to come back together safely to re-connect and enjoy a beer.

The Government will also no longer mandate the wearing of face from next Thursday and they will be scrapped in classrooms as early as tomorrow.

For Matthew Fitzpatrick, Principal at Morley Newlands Academy, he fears such liftings may be premature as the school currently tackles multiple Omicron outbreaks.

"We are experiencing quite high infection rates currently and have had to take the measure of closing a class in year three and year one due to the high levels of contagion." he explained.

"It doesn't feel like the pandemic is coming to an end and if anything it feels as if it's taking hold now more than before Christmas, in the past week especially we have had quite a high number of positive tests, both staff and children."

Despite continued high infection rates within schools, statistics do suggest Omicron levels are falling in most parts of the UK for the first time since early December.

For Coun James Lewis, leader of Leeds City Council, who while understanding positive impact the news will have for many has urged continued caution.

“We know the change in Covid restrictions will have a positive impact on many residents and businesses throughout the city. It is important to remain vigilant and to be considerate to others as our lives and ways of working re-adjust." he said.

“The virus remains a threat and our hospitals are still under significant pressure, so we continue to encourage people to get vaccinated and boosted to offer the best possible protection against becoming ill, and to isolate if you are showing symptoms or test positive."

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