A North Staffordshire restaurant owner has offered to transform two of his closed sites into vaccination hubs – to help ensure the hospitality sector can reopen in the spring.
Leon Burton runs the Staffordshire and Cheshire Leisure Group which boasts sites in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Brewood, Northwich and Macclesfield.
The restaurateur has written to local MPs to offer to turn The Milehouse and Sanctuary Bar, both in Newcastle, into community vaccination hubs as part of the mass vaccination campaign launched last month.
Leon hopes that by working with the government to accelerate the vaccination programme, hospitality businesses – which have been ‘disproportionately affected’ by the various lockdowns, tiers and other restrictions – will be able to reopen by the spring.
He said: “Hospitality has continued to be disproportionately affected by ongoing restrictions, and by February some hospitality businesses would have been closed for up to seven months and restricted for a further four months.
“It’s vital the government rapidly accelerates the vaccine program so that hospitality can open in the spring. Therefore, it makes sense to work with the government to ensure local communities benefit from the accessibility, space and access to cold room storage that our hospitality businesses can offer.
“We hope that local MPs raise this with Nadhim Zahawi, the minister in charge of vaccine roll-out, and continue to call for further support for hospitality to survive.
“It’s important we work together to defeat the virus, support our local communities and ensure our hospitality businesses can survive the ongoing Government restrictions.”
The vaccine roll-out started in the UK last month.
So far, two vaccines – the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine and the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine – have been approved for use.
Up to now, more than one million people have received the vaccines since the start of December, with those most vulnerable first in line to receive the jab.
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Leon added: “The Milehouse in particular offers an easily accessible location within walking distance to thousands of Newcastle-under-Lyme residents, along with large indoor space, multiple hand sanitiser stations, large car park and most importantly – significant cold room storage to store vaccines.”
The Staffordshire and Cheshire Leisure Group’s offer follows similar announcements by Scottish brewery giant BrewDog and South West cafe-bar chain Loungers who, according to Big Hospitality, are in talks with the government about using their closed sites to help with the vaccine roll-out.