'There’s so much hospitality can bring to regenerating – it’s the beating heart of communities.'

The Staff Canteen

Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge was once again championing the hospitality sector and imploring the government to offer more help to wet-led pubs as he joined the panel on last night’s Question Time on BBC.

Discussing the news of a vaccine he told viewers ‘it’s been a magical couple of days, with the news coming through it feels like there is an end to this nightmare we’ve all been living’. However, he’s realistic in that the ‘short term excitement’ will be followed by long term problems when it comes to getting everyone vaccinated ‘to make sure we can get our lives back to normal’.

Commenting on minister Gavin Williamson’s statement that the UK won the vaccine race, Tom said: “It’s political, a point scoring space race. Clearly the scientists have been working together to create something which solves a world problem and it’s something we should all be proud of – so I found it quite embarrassing this morning.”

Addressing the Tier restrictions and the extra financial support of £1000 offered to wet-led pubs which have been forced to close he said: “Hospitality has been hugely exposed through all of this pandemic, it’s under a huge amount of pressure right now.

“The problem is that so many pubs, restaurants, hotels have spent so much money to be able to reopen and try and make themselves covid secure – to be fair to the government the furlough scheme has been incredibly helpful from a staffing point of view – but moving forward the industry does need much more help.

“We need plenty of investment, wet-led pubs have been one of the worst hit – they didn’t get that VAT cut which has been very helpful for restaurants and hotels, so it should be pushed on to alcohol.” When it comes to the restrictions Tom is of the view point that ‘we’re all grown adults’ and pointed out that people are able to move about freely to shop so ‘surely you should be able to go out and have a drink rather than shopping?’.

Pointing out that it’s between 3 and 5% transmission rates in hospitality. However, Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College, immunologist and specialist in respiratory diseases, pointed out that ‘pubs are a perfect transmittal environment’ due to poor ventilation and loud music forcing people to talk loudly.

He did concede that he would be comfortable to go into a pub which is quiet and well ventilated, and where you can keep your distance from people.

Tom said: “This is an industry which is on its knees. It was struggling before covid came a long and now we’re at a point were many loans have been taken out in order to reopen, then we’ve been put into a tier system where evidence for their closure has been pretty selective.”

Journalist Liam Halligan added: “We’re facing a tsunami of unemployment here, with the best will in the world and the vaccine on the way we could still have up to six months of lockdown and we need to be smarter about how we lockdown.”

The discussion didn’t just focus on Covid, moving on to Brexit, the panel all expressed their concerns that time is running out for negotiations.

“We need a deal to come through as soon as possible,” explained Tom. “The uncertainty of the market moving forward – any deal is better than no deal.”

He added: “There’s so much hospitality can bring to regenerating the country – it’s the beating heart of communities.”

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 4th December 2020

'There’s so much hospitality can bring to regenerating – it’s the beating heart of communities.'