THE Palace Pier could be reopened in July.

Anne Ackord, chief executive of The Brighton Pier Group, expects it will be allowed to get back up and running when the Government’s third phase of easing restrictions comes into play.

She said it was not possible to set a fixed date but saw no reason why the pier would not be able to open as part of this phase, which will see other attractions and entertainment businesses, including cinemas, return.

She said that if the infection rate of the virus comes down to levels needed, the pier’s rides and arcades could reopen then too.

Ms Ackord said one of the most difficult aspects of the lockdown has been “trying to make plans without knowing the parameters”.

But she said the pier had been setting up hygiene stations, securing personal protective equipment for staff and arranging cleaning in preparation to reopen.

“I’m confident we can make it safe,” she said.

In its recovery plan, the Government says phase three will be put in place no earlier than July 4 and the extent of easing will depend on the outlook at the time.

The proposals state: “The ambition at this step is to open at least some of the remaining businesses and premises that have been required to close.”

These include hairdressers, beauty salons, pubs, hotels, places of worship and leisure facilities. These places will also have to meet official coronavirus safety guidelines.

But the phase three outline comes with a big caveat.

The Government said that some venues which are crowded by nature and where it could prove difficult to socially distance may not be able to reopen safely at this point.

Such places could open partially, it said. The pier will have to satisfy these criteria to reopen fully.

Speaking to The Argus earlier this month, Ms Ackord voiced concerns over the lockdown’s impact on the city’s leisure and hospitality industry.

She said: “While the need to protect lives is clearly understood, the need to protect people’s economic lives is also of paramount importance.

“With the Government’s own estimate of potentially an additional two million unemployed in the second quarter of this year, many in hospitality and leisure, the future looks very fragile for those who for various reasons cannot weather the storm.

“Those that can’t are very much in the thoughts of all of us in Brighton and Hove’s visitor economy sector.”

She looks forward to having the “wonderful, quirky, vibrant city” back on its feet.

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