City bar owners ready for ‘Freedom Day’

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The owners of seven Leeds bars have said music, dancing and ordering at the bar will be firmly back on the menu from “Freedom Day” – Monday 19 July.

Mel and Phil Harrison of Escapism Bar Group – which owns well-known venues including Mean-Eyed Cat, Tiki Hideaway, Cuckoo, Verve and Call Lane Social – say they see Monday as the day the city’s valuable night-time economy gets back on track.

However, whilst the Government has said the majority of formal Covid restrictions will be fully lifted, the pair say staff will still be free to wear face masks, and customers doing so would also be welcomed.

Co-owner Mel Harrison said: “’Freedom Day’ has been a long time coming, and for us this is the day that we have been looking forward to since the start of the Covid crisis, almost 16 months ago.

“Covid hit the hospitality sector especially hard, and sadly a number of our colleagues in the city have ceased trading as a result of the pandemic.

“We have been fortunate that we have retained all our staff and have ridden out what we hope is the worst of the crisis.

“Leeds’s night life is certainly one of the biggest and best in the North of England, and we are very proud to play a significant part in its fortunes. Monday marks the start of the city’s economy being able to fire on all cylinders.

“We will be keeping a close eye on the Covid situation, and we have one worry which is ‘track and trace’.

“We are not alone in this, as if staff members are ‘pinged’ and have to self-isolate for ten days, it could mean bars will have to shut, which is something no one wants.

“Of course though whilst this element does remain a worry, our primary concern will always be on the safety of our staff and customers.”