Unlock completely says restaurateur after '18 months of hell'

Chris Newman of Homme Nouveau in Whittlesey is looking forward to so-called 'Freedom Day'.

Chris Newman (left), who runs Homme Nouveau in Whittlesey, is ready to return to near normality as lockdown restrictions are due to be eased on July 19. - Credit: Facebook/Homme Nouveau

A restaurateur says he cannot wait to return to near normality after “18 months of hell” as coronavirus lockdown restrictions are due to ease. 

Chris Newman’s Homme Nouveau restaurant in Whittlesey has been hit hard by the pandemic since March last year, since it opened in November 2019. 

Homme Nouveau

Chris Newman of Homme Nouveau in Whittlesey, is ready to return to near normality as lockdown restrictions are due to be eased on July 19. - Credit: Homme Nouveau

“My view is to unlock completely and get back to normal”, Chris said. 

“It has been 18 months of hell and when you see the former health secretary doing what he did, it can’t be one rule for all and one for the other.” 

One of the restrictions in England due to be lifted on so-called ‘Freedom Day’ on July 19 is the wearing of face coverings, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson said will be down to “personal choice”. 

The NHS Test and Trace system will also no longer be a legal requirement, a measure Chris will be removing from the restaurant.

“My staff will not be forced to wear masks, but I will not stop my staff wearing one,” he said. 

“We’ll still have hand sanitisers, but no track and trace.  

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“That has been a nightmare as every customer has to stop to do that, which makes things slower, especially when you’ve got a table of six. 

“There will still be table service and the option to hand sanitise, and we hope people that do have symptoms will stay away.” 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson due to announce end of lockdown restrictions on July 19

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to confirm a further easing of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions on July 19, including on the wearing of face coverings. - Credit: PA

Chris, who has been critical of the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, is looking forward to potentially welcoming back more customers. 

He believes that the hospitality sector deserves similar leniency when it comes to restrictions as thousands of fans attended Wembley Stadium to watch England at Euro 2020. 

But despite this, he remains cautious in fear of a worsening situation as more of society reopens. 

“I think it will be a lot more protective than going to supermarkets as opposed to pubs and restaurants as people are touching a lot of things whereas in a restaurant, that isn’t happening,” Chris added. 

“I’m taking it week by week; we have to still be conscious that there is still a disease out there.  

“At the end of the day, customers have to be sensible and proactive, but we have to reopen the economy.”