'I want to know how Bojo expects us to make soufflés from home and send them out on Deliveroo'

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 6th March 2020

As fears surrounding the coronavirus spread throughout the world, it is now a question of whether or not the UK's hospitality industry will be affected, but how badly.

As fears surrounding the coronavirus spread throughout the world, it is now a question of whether or not the UK's hospitality industry will be affected, but how badly.

While up on the TSCLive stage at HRC, Jason Atherton quipped: "I want to know how Bojo expects us to make soufflés from home and send them out on Deliveroo," and Angela Hartnett joked about there not being any sage in the whole of the ExCel building, and said “we’re going to be running out of toilet paper soon – running out of sage will be the least of my worries” - there is an air of concern sweeping over the industry.  

Cities are the worst hit so far 

Speaking on another panel at HRC, Paul Foster said his business wasn't particularly affected because of its location - "In Stratford people don't even know what it is," he joked - and the type of customer it attracts.

However Claude Bosi said the effect at Bibendum and in London restaurants in general was noticeable already.

"We don't have any tourists at the moment, so it's definitely affecting the number of covers. We just have to go with it, look at the cost and we have no choice - we just have to go with the wave and hopefully we'll be fine."

Tom Kerridge agreed, saying business at his city sites has taken a hit. "Our corporate market - meetings that people don't need to be at, they're postponing - which, postponing is fine but it means you're losing however many bookings that week." 

"Marlow is quite good, it's self-perpetuating, there's a lot of people that live there that still use it because they're in that community but Manchester city centre, that's based in a hotel, corporate movement within the hotel and the city, and the restaurant at The Corinthia in London, business is slower, there isn't that movement of people."

"The enjoyment factor - if it's husband and wife, going out for dinner, that's still the same, but the meetings and that sort of stuff, that's very much slowed down." 

Mark said that for them too, at The Berkeley international business has seen a sizeable reduction. 

"As long as the UK keeps going out, we'll be fine I think." 

Shauna agreed with Tom's point about customers coming for pleasure not work - "As long as we still get the couples and friends coming out for lunch and dinner, but we have lost a number of bookings internationally, and that's as far as May." 

What happens if you don't go to work?

Aside from the expected impact on restaurant revenue, another issue which will likely be a problem for many in the industry is unpaid leave.

As the UK government advises, responsibility should rest on individuals to self-isolate if one experiences symptoms. And indeed, research shows that illness is significantly less likely to spread when employees are guaranteed sick pay as opposured to those who aren't.

Yet, such rights are far from guaranteed in the hospitality industry - given the number of self-employed and zero-hour contract staff -it is a no brainer: most are likely to decide to continue to work if it is a choice between containing the virus and earning a living. 

We'd love to hear your thoughts - have you or the business been affected by the Coronavirus outbreak? Are you fearful of the effect it might have on the industry?

 

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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 6th March 2020

'I want to know how Bojo expects us to make soufflés from home and send them out on Deliveroo'