OPINION: Sheffield's indoor hospitality reopening is a huge step in our return to normality

It was such a joy seeing people warm, dry, and cheerful as indoor hospitality returned to the city for the first time in months on May 17.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 9:25 am

Today was arguably the most significant step in the government’s roadmap plan so far, we’re finally starting to get back on track and I think that it is crucial to keep the virus under control whilst also keeping the economy in a stable position, meaning businesses need to remain open.

We have seen the return of people to indoor hospitality, gyms can eventually put classes on for people, and foreign travel is once again allowed, with the traffic light travel system in place to stop more cases of the virus being brought back into the country.

Surprisingly the city centre was empty although there were more signs of life later into the day around lunchtime as people headed out to restaurants, cafes and pubs – sitting indoors for the first time in months.

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Sheffield Star reporter Kian Rains. Picture: Chris Etchells

I visited the Showroom Cinema in Sheffield before the very first screening and spoke to some of the audiences returning to their favourite cinema for the first time since last year.

One man said that he had booked the day off work to have an entire day watching films at the venue and added that it was his escape from everything going on at the moment.

It really struck me that these venues mean so much more to us than meets the eye – it’s our escape, our social life, our freedom.

I’m delighted for everyone as we start to get some normality back into our lives.

The next stage of restrictions were lifted today as cinemas and indoor hospitality reopend. Picture: Chris Etchells

It’s not only the reopenings that are a big part of the plan; we can now hug friends and family and even visit others inside their homes once again.

It’s a huge step, many of our loved ones have found themselves isolated throughout the pandemic, and we must now try to check in on them as much as possible, let them know that we are here for them.

Our social lives have been the worst hit during the pandemic; before these difficult times, we could head out and meet up with friends or family, but for as long as I can remember we’ve had to communicate via our mobile phones and zoom calls.

From today, we obviously need to be cautious and act responsibly, but I also think it’s important to look ahead to the future and have a positive outlook about life; just think how far we have come, the vaccines and sacrifices made by all of us have enabled us to move that one step closer to normality.

Despite the news that this Indian variant is on the rise, I’m hopeful that the next stage of the roadmap plan can go ahead as planned on June 21 as long as we continue to work together to stop the spread.