'Glaring lack of support' for hospitality as restrictions extended for four weeks

The  Staff Canteen

Remaining coronavirus rules will endure in England for four weeks after June 21st, the Prime Minister has confirmed after weeks of speculation in the press.

Senior ministers signed off on the decision to delay 'Freedom Day', which was anticipated as the lifting of all restrictions on social contact. The extension will still be put to the House of Commons for vote on Wednesday, and is expected to trigger something of a rebellion from the Conservative backbenches.

In a press conference, Boris Johnson said he had stayed true to his plan of making "cautious but irreversible" progress, making England "one of the most open economic societies in Europe"

"We cannot simply eliminate Covid, we have to learn to live with it," remarking that the Delta variant is "cause for concern" despite the success of the vaccination programme.

"Even if the link between hospitalisation and death have been weakened, the numbers in ICU have risen."

In order to avoid "thousands more deaths," he said, "we can give the NHS those crucial few more weeks" to vaccinate enough people to open up without risk.

"I think it is sensible to wait just a bit longer," he said.

The decision to reopen sooner after a two-week revision is plausible, he said, and he added that he was "confident" that the four weeks would suffice to reopen safely.

What are the consequences for hospitality? 

As remarked in an open letter sent to Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak by hospitality leaders, "hospitality has been the hardest hit during the crisis of the past 15 months, shedding 65% of sales in the year to March. Even now, with partial reopening, sector sales remain down 42%," making the consequences of ongoing restrictions "profound."

Sector bodies including UK Hospitality have warned that 300,000 jobs are at risk as a result of the decision, and that the economy will be left short of £3bn of lost income from the sector.

Arguably the hardest hit of all will be business owners and those employed in the night time economy, which has been almost entirely shut down since the offset of the pandemic. 

A report published by Safer Sounds, an association promoting safe operations in the music and events industry warned that "any delay" to the 21st June deadline "could threaten the future viability of venues," but, even with this, "Nightclub operators will seek to integrate COVID-19 regulations into their current procedures along with appropriate training," as they see the virus "as something they will have to consider in their operations for years to
come."

Earlier today, owner of central London Nightclubs G-A-Y and Heaven Jeremy Joseph told LBC Radio: "Everyone talks hospitality but nobody talks nightclubs."

"I closed Heaven as a fully-fledged nightclub on March 14th 2020, over a year ago. I have had zero support from the government." 

"What is he going to do for all of the security, the DJs, the lighting technicians, the sound technicians, the bar staff?"

"We want to keep everybody safe, but he has to say what he's going to do for us." 

Support

While damaging public health is not the intention of anyone in the hospitality industry, reduced capacity will likely cause more casualties - not to mention that the staffing crisis will only be made worse if the sector is seen as an unreliable sector of employment.

Whilst the government may yet announce further measures to support the sector, the Prime Minister's speech failed to address them.

Director of Caterer.com Neil Pattison said it was "crucial" that government provide more support "to protect jobs and keep hospitality’s talented workforce within the sector. We also continue to support calls from the industry to postpone business rate, rent and debt payments.

“Hospitality is ready to open fully as soon as they are able, and with well-established and impressive safety measures in place, customers are also keen to enjoy full reopening, for what should be a busy and enjoyable summer and beyond. The sector needs the government’s support to return to strength and once again play a major part in the UK’s economic recovery.”

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 14th June 2021

'Glaring lack of support' for hospitality as restrictions extended for four weeks