Businesses across England ready to reopen indoors as Covid lockdown eases

ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers hears from the businesses ready to reopen in England on Monday

At the heart of Legoland is an astonishingly accurate depiction of London, showing Big Ben and Westminster in miniature.

But there is one figure missing from this little model of the heart of government - there’s no mini-Boris Johnson debating Covid strategy with Matt Hancock.

It’s a shame because the decisions emanating from the seat of government have preoccupied us and almost every aspect of our lives like never before.

Legoland is preparing to reopen its indoor attractions. Credit: ITV News

On Monday, thanks to a decision taken in Downing Street, inside attractions at Legoland will reopen along with the entire inside hospitality sector

For this theme park it means their new multi-million pound ride will finally be open to customers - a relief for Operations Director, Karen Glassey who says this is their biggest ever investment in their 25-year history.

Not something they want to keep closed for a moment longer.

Coronavirus: What you need to know - Listen to the latest episode

It also means the theme park's hotel, restaurants and cafes are being dusted down and prepared for reopening, as they are across the entire country. 

Pubs like the Horse and Groom in Windsor are delighted.

From Monday they can offer customers a seat inside, out of the unseasonably cold rain, for food and a drink - all within the rule of six of course.

Assistant manager Cormac Ahern is yearning for the return of the intangible atmosphere of a busy pub, full of laughter and chat - even if he will be experiencing it from behind a plastic screen which covers the bar.

Assistant manager Cormac Ahern prepares for the reopening of indoor hospitality. Credit: ITV News

But there are plenty of people who worry the opening of hospitality at the same time as some international tourism will turbo charge the already rapidly spreading cases of the so-called Indian variant.

Labour is now calling on the government to think again about allowing travel to places like Portugal.

But the government insists it has acted promptly whenever it could, putting India on the red list when it had the data to justify the move.

There is no sign the government intends to delay the relaxing of restrictions on Monday morning.Ultimately whether Step 3 is seen as a crucial success on the roadmap back to normality or an ill considered stumble into a third wave will depend on one thing: Will vaccines prevail over variants?

Mass testing and vaccination is being stepped up in Bolton Credit: PA

In Bolton the government is surging vaccines and testing to try and get on top of an outbreak of the Indian variant there, but we probably won’t know whether that has been successful until a few weeks after Step 3 is taken.

It all means the timing of Step 4 - the final lifting of all restrictions in June hangs in the balance.

Epidemiologists will be watching the data like hawks. This really will be a critical test of whether the government’s strategy is working.