'These sacrifices must count for something. Or we cannot reasonably expect the public compliance necessary to suppress the virus'

The  Staff Canteen

Seven months into the Coronavirus crisis and here we are again, faced with a National lockdown which could last four weeks - or, like Groundhog Day, could go on indefinitely.

After the news of an imminent lockdown was leaked to the press, the cabinet held a last-minute press briefing on Saturday announcing that as of Thursday 5th November, people in England should remain at home, with exceptions only if they are required to do so for work or to care for a person external to their household. 

All hospitality venues shall be closed once more after a final service on Wednesday evening - aftecting 38,000 pubs and 27,000 restaurants, according to real estate adviser Altus Group - only able to remain open if they can operate as a takeaway or delivery service. Schools and universities will remain open.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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A post shared by Simon Hulstone (@hulstone) on

 

While this will deliver yet another blow to the industry by putting hundreds of thousands of jobs on a cliff edge, the extension of the original furlough scheme, whereby the government will cover 80% of an employee's wages should their employer agree to keep them on the payroll, could also help see some through until the new year. 

But the hospitality industry has seen its reputation tarnished by the political debacle of its impact on the spread of the virus, leaving many feeling a sense of injustice as to restrictions placed on it.

 

In a statement, UK Hospitality called for clarity on the next steps to save the hospitality industry - which as we all are now well aware is a massive contributor to the Nation's economy. 

For this, it reads, "it will need equivalent – or more – support than that of the first lockdown.

"Hospitality businesses have already been pushed to the limits, with many closures already. For those that have survived, viability is on a knife edge, as is the future of the tens of thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of jobs that depend on hospitality, including through its supply chain, right across the country.

"It is critical that businesses are given a lifeline to survive the winter, before being given the support to enter a revival phase in 2021, as the nation's prospects improve. A clear roadmap out of lockdown and through the tiers will also be vital for businesses to plan their survival, and the safeguarding of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

In it together?

For some this crisis has exacerbated the fracture between Whitehall and local authorities, as it is perceived that UK wide support is only rolled out when infections in the capital are high. 

 

Divisions within government are rife - some Tory backbenchers see it as an infringement on personal liberties and a deathblow to the economy, and while Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has been categorical that the National lockdown will end after four weeks have elapsed, the Prime Minister and Michael Gove have been more mitigated. 

Sir Graham Brady, leader of the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs, told The BBC's Radio 4 that if the lockdown restrictions had been announced by a totalitarian regime, they would have been denounced as a “form of evil”.

Rishi Sunak, the chancellor and an opponent of tighter restrictions, insisted that the new lockdown would end on 2 December “as a matter of law”.

“Our expectation and firm hope is that the measures put in place will be sufficient to do the job we need,” he said.

Meanwhile, in a speech to the Commons later today, the Prime Minister is expected to clarify the aim to return to a tiered, regional system in four weeks' time, "according to the latest data and trends.”

Michael Gove told Sky News that the lockdown could be extended, and added: “We want to be in a position where if we bring down the rate of infection sufficiently we can reduce measures nationally and also regionally.

"It may be the case that having reduced R below 1, having reduced national restrictions, we may see a specific upsurge in specific areas which will require specific regional measures.”

A vote on the decision is due to take place in Parliament on Wednesday, however opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer has openly expressed that the Labour Party will be voting in line with government.  

An Evening Standard commentary piece commended the government's decision to lock down again, warning however that the Test and Trace system needs to be fixed and support must be targeted and taken seriously to make the sacrifices made up and down the country worthwhile.

It reads: "These sacrifices must count for something. Or we cannot reasonably expect the public compliance necessary to suppress the virus," continuing to warn: "Through error and endless promises, the Government has sapped the goodwill and benefit of the doubt it enjoyed in the spring."

Compliance with the new lockdown is indeed a concern worth pondering, as demonstrated by a poll run by British businessman and entrepreneur Simon Dolan, who is pursuing the government for what he considers to be illegal lockdown measures.

 

Despite the undoubtedly devastating consequences of any policy in such a crisis, social media users have stayed true to their knack of injecting humour into even the most dire of situations.

 

If you would like to talk to a member of our editorial team about your situation in the current climate, we'd love to hear from you. Please DM us on our social channels or email [email protected] / [email protected]

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 2nd November 2020

'These sacrifices must count for something. Or we cannot reasonably expect the public compliance necessary to suppress the virus'