May 18, 2021 at 07:39AM

Almost 1 million people went back to work in the U.K. even as new COVID-19 variants continue to circle, according to the Financial Times (FT) on Monday (May 17).

Business owners were still questioning the long-term reopening plans.

But even with that happening, restaurant and bar owners said there had been strong demand for dining and drinking indoors.

In addition, there was a wealth of other openings, including museums, galleries and cinemas, all of which saw demand as people could socialize indoors for the first time since early March 2020.

According to U.K. Hospitality, more than 52,000 venues reopened, employing around 900,000 in areas including England, Scotland and Wales. That comes after the over 26,000 which already opened in April for outside trade, including places like pubs, restaurants, hotels and guest houses.

That said, some concerns remain, as business owners voiced concerns that the government would not cut down on the need for social distancing or other restrictions ahead of the June 21 date announced by ministers — which could put their recovery plans on ice. For instance, Downing Street said a review of its social distancing measures could be delayed because of a new COVID variant first spotted in India.

Numerous chains in the country are beginning to open back up, including bowling alley chain Hollywood Bowl, which opened up 64 centers and brought back 1,600 furloughed employees, and cinema chain Odeon, which said it had brought back most of its screens. The oldest brewer in England, Shepherd Neame, plans to have 95 percent of its estate open this week, the report said.

In addition to various types of businesses, the wedding industry is seeing a boost in services now, too, including things like apparel, travel, food, media services and more — whatever people might need to get hitched after the long 2020.

The introduction of more opportunities for real-life weddings has also effectively done away with the appetite for Zoom weddings.

COVID Variants Dampen UK Business Reopenings …

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