‘Give us more Bank Holidays!’ York business leader calls for post-pandemic breaks to boost devastated trade

Deserted – except for seagulls. King's Square on Easter Sunday afternoon 2020. Photograph: YorkMix

The Easter Bank Holiday weekend traditionally kicks off York’s tourist season, and sees the city filled with residents, tourists and shoppers.

But aside from a few key workers at food shops, and socially-distancing residents taking their daily exercise, the city centre was deserted this Easter.

The scene above, showing King’s Square on Easter Sunday afternoon empty except for seagulls who had strewn rubbish across the street, tells the whole story. The lockdown has been devastating for York’s retail and tourist industries.

And now one city business leader is calling on the government to introduce some extra Bank Holidays after the lockdown is lifted to help make up for some of the lost trade.

Dedicate them to the NHS

Phil Pinder in the Potions Cauldron on Shambles. Photographs: Richard McDougall

Chair of York Retail Forum Phil Pinder said it was time to start planning ways to help the economy once the crisis has abated.

“Everyone has missed out on these Bank Holidays, and while we’ve all had the time at home, we haven’t really had the break we would have wanted.

“Tourist destinations like York have missed really important trading periods.”

The next two Bank Holidays – on 8 and 25 May – are likely to be badly affected by the crisis.

After that there’s only the Bank Holiday on 31 August before Christmas Day.

Phil, who owns The Potions Cauldron on Shambles, said: “It only seems logical to move the Bank Holidays to help with our post-pandemic recovery,” adding:

  • So let’s just plan for more Bank Holidays now!

    Perhaps a bumper weekend in September and maybe another over Halloween, to make up for the four lost public holidays while in lockdown.

    We could even give some special importance to them as thank you days for the NHS or as memorial days for the many victims of coronavirus.

York Retail Forum has a list of Covid-19 resources for businesses on its website.