Axing Freedom Day will ‘cost taxpayer a whole load extra money’

The MP for Winchester and Chandler's Ford has slammed the government’s decision to keep entertainment venues social distancing for an extra five weeks.

The MP for Winchester and Chandler’s Ford has criticised the government’s decision to keep entertainment venues social distancing for an extra five weeks.

The move comes after Britain’s highest weekly covid figure in three months on June 9, at 37,729 cases.

The Conservative MP and former Health Minister told Eastleigh News:

“The fact that June 21st is not going to go ahead, presumably it’s going to cost the taxpayer a whole load of extra money in support for businesses affected.

It’s not just about extending restrictions; you’re going to have to extend the support and, potentially, extend the ban on evictions. It’d be far better to open up and just let people trade.”


The government announced on Tuesday (June 16) that restrictions as to who can open, and how many people can attend venues, will now continue until 19 July.

Mr Brine tackled Health Secretary Matt Hancock in parliament over the cancellation asking him:

“I think our constituents want to know what does 19th July mean that 21st June did not?”

The delay will cause further hardship for venues that have been unable to trade because of covid restrictions and yesterday the government confirmed that, as predicted by Mr Brine, it will continue to ban evictions against businesses “that have had to remain closed during the pandemic and are unable to pay rent on their commercial property.”


According to the trade body UKHospitality, hospitality firms now owe £2.5 billion in rent debt to landlords across the country. Its CEO Kate Nicholls calls this an “existential crisis for hospitality,” but says that at least the extended eviction ban “will banish a grim shadow that has hung menacingly over hospitality since the Covid crisis began 15 months ago.”


Meanwhile Southampton’s MP Alan Whitehead says night-time venues are “hanging by a cliff edge,” and need “a slope back to normality.” “We can’t underestimate how many people have just been hanging on,” Whitehead says, adding that if the country can’t reopen, the government “must also push back rent protection and furloughs”.


The ban on landlords evicting businesses will extend until 25 March 2022. However, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak will not extend the furlough scheme beyond July 1, despite pleas from the British Chambers of Commerce.


James Johnston

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