'The Government has effectively shut the hospitality industry without any support'

The Staff Canteen

The government's announcement today urging people to 'stop all non-essential contact' with others has sent the hospitality industry into freefall. 

The UK’s pubs and restaurants have called on the government to offer urgent financial help, having stopped short of forcing pubs and restaurants to close which means they cannot claim against insurance policies.

Many businesses are already struggling with a sharp decline in footfall and have begun to lay off staff as they try to minimise the impact. A backlash is growing against the Government with experts warning that without further help businesses may have to close for good.

The hospitality industry is worth £73 billion to the UK economy and boasts over 3 million jobs. Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive for UK Hospitality, said: "This is catastrophic for businesses and jobs. The Government has effectively shut the hospitality industry without any support.

"This announcement will lead to thousands of businesses closing their doors for good and hundreds of thousands of job losses. The industry has suffered unprecedented drops in visits and many businesses are already on their knees. This latest advice leaves the industry in limbo."

She added: "The Government must act now to stop them going under and protect people's jobs."

Chefs across social media have been venting their anger and frustration while urging people to support a petition created by Alex Claridge from The Wilderness in Birmingham.

He said: "Last night, Boris Johnson advised the public to avoid bars, restaurants and pubs but did not tell us we must stop operating. Last night, Boris shunned his responsibility and duty to the 3 billion people who work in the hospitality industry in the UK, the third largest industry in Britain, and instead forced business owners and employers up and down the country to make a decision which should not have been in their hands.

"I couldn’t sit by and watch the hard work my team, my peers and 3 billion other people crumble before my eyes overnight and started a petition to ask for our questions to be answered. The £75 billion contribution the hospitality industry adds to the economy annually must, we argue, afford us at least that."

The petition has so far been signed by over 50,000 people and is going up by the second, it says: “The Coronavirus is a challenge and a tragedy in equal measure for this country, and we know how real the threat is to societies most vulnerable. All of us in hospitality wish to play our part in protecting those who need it and assisting in anyway possible to see the country through these dark times.

Sign the petition to support UK's hospitality industry through the Coronavirus crisis

“That said the UK governments total lack of responsibility for the hospitality industry is unacceptable. The hospitality industry is the third largest industry in the UK with many jobs at stake. In choosing to not officially close restaurants, bars, hotels and other venues and instead putting the onus on consumers and business owners is both a dangerous and cowardly decision.

“We are petitioning for the government to take responsibility and formally close venues if that is what is actually required, instead of effectively doing so without taking ownership.

“We are asking for a review of-

“A clear support - financial and practical - laid out by the government for both staff and business owners alike.

“A decision from the government - because if we take the decision to close any form of insurance is no longer an option.

“Clarity for guests to ensure their safety.

“Transparency on timeline so businesses can prepare logistically and rationally for times ahead.”

Hospitality Action released a statement saying they had received ‘an unprecedented’ number of requests for financial help.

“We are committed to triaging all applications that meet our criteria and providing assistance to those in need of our help, including people who have been diagnosed with Coronavirus.

“As demand increases, we ask for your understanding, as we may have to prioritise those whose needs are most acute. Rest assured we will do everything in our power to support the industry we serve as fully as is possible.”

Andrew Bennett MBE, National Chair of the Craft Guild of Chefs, has called for 'clarity' in light of the governemnets advice. He said: “This half measure means businesses are unable to claim on their insurance for business interruption unless they are officially told to close. This lack of clear guidance could spell the death knell for our industry.

“This is totally unacceptable; businesses say they are just taking a slow painful walk into bankruptcy. The government has been too slow to act, bars and restaurants have been impacted since the start of the pandemic. The government needs to put together a package to help these businesses. We will work together as an industry to hold the government to account for the crisis in our sector.”

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 16th March 2020

'The Government has effectively shut the hospitality industry without any support'