OXFORD businesses have broadly welcomed the rumours a more cautious end to lockdown will be announced today.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to hold a press conference at 6pm today, where it is believed he will announced that the final part of the Government's roadmap for unlocking from Covid restrictions will be pushed back by four weeks.

Ahead of the announcement, business owners and managers in Oxford have largely welcomed the news of a more cautious end to lockdown, with one even saying they would 'feel fairly anxious' about the current date for easing, June 21.

On that date at the earliest, all final restrictions on life are due to be lifted in England, allowing for gig venues and nightclubs to reopen, and for weddings to have an unlimited number of guests instead of the 30 upper limit at the moment.

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Pubs, cafes and restaurants would also be allowed to serve at full capacity indoors and outdoors, by placing tables closer together.

But the spreading Delta variant of Covid may put a dampener on the plans to ease restrictions from June 21, with reports in the national media suggesting the date for unlocking all final restrictions will be delayed until July 19.

Oxford restaurateur Clinton Pugh, who owns Tarifa, Kazbar and Cafe Coco on Cowley Road, said he thought the plans for a slower final stage was sensible.

Mr Pugh said: "I personally think the Government would be right to delay it, it is silly after all we have gone through to rush opening now and with the pace at which we are vaccinating it wouldn't be difficult for the virus to find places it can move to."

Clinton Pugh

Clinton Pugh

Mr Pugh added his own businesses were staying afloat thanks to a newly introduced outdoor square area on Dawson Street, which allowed him to place tables from Coco and Kazbar into the street.

He also said: "I am fortunate I have now got this space and it is working really well. I am sure if I was running a small pub with minimal space inside and out it would be painful. My condolences go out to them."

At the Rose and Crown on North Parade, bar manager Adam Hall was also welcoming of a more cautious approach to ending lockdown.

"Given that cases are on the rise it would be bananas to just open up. This is just common sense. It is not good news if you are a nightclub, I appreciate that," he said.

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Mr Hall added his own business was currently 'coping' with the current number of customers it was allowed to have at any one time, and said: "We can carry on treading water for a bit longer if it means unlocking permanently."

The pub landlord added: "If the Government said today it was all going to open it would be more stressful. We are in a studenty area, and if they come in in large numbers all at once now I think we would feel fairly anxious."

Adam Hall, manager of the Rose and Crown on North Parade, Oxford

Adam Hall, manager of the Rose and Crown on North Parade, Oxford

Wedding businesses have had to deal with the brunt of Covid restrictions, with many couples cancelling and rebooking plans throughout 2020 and 2021.

Natasha Clarke of the Event Designer, a wedding planning service, said she thought many soon-to-be married couples would carry on with their plans for small weddings of 30 or fewer guests if restrictions stayed in place for longer, instead of reorganising a larger wedding.

Ms Clarke added: "I did a wedding last year that was due to have 450 people, but they had to rebook it for this year and just have 15 guests; but they still said they had the best day, so it is each to their own really."

The Prime Minister is due to hold a televised press conference tonight at 6pm about the next stage of the roadmap to end lockdown.