‘This is an industry that is clearly already on its knees’

The  Staff Canteen

UKHospitality is urging the Government to provide businesses with certainty and clarity in its reopening announcement next week as it presents its own roadmap for the hospitality sector to emerge from lockdown and restrictions.

 

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “The success of the vaccine rollout thus far is hugely encouraging and offers not just hospitality but the whole of society a clear exit from this current lockdown.

“However, a delayed reopening will come at the cost of even more jobs and more business collapses – this is an industry that is clearly already on its knees and that has already lost one million jobs, including those lost amongst our ailing supply partners.

"Prolonged closure risks the longer-term economic recovery and also makes no sense on the grounds of safety. There is no valid reason for hospitality to be at the back of the queue as data shows hospitality venues are very low risk due to the exceptional investment that businesses have made in creating safe and Covid-secure environments.

“It’s clearly important the government follows the data, and we understand the point, but the data is showing that we can move swiftly, safely and sustainably to reopen hospitality in April.

"Businesses need firm dates to plan their reopening strategies, so they can bring back staff, negotiate their rent with landlords and re-engage with all their suppliers. We urge Government to provide that certainty and to underpin the recovery with business support: extending the 5% VAT rate and the business rates holiday will stimulate consumer demand and help reduce costs. These measures are vital in returning hospitality to being an engine of economic and employment growth.”

UKHospitality’s roadmap to recovery

1. Focus on reducing infections, hospitalisations and deaths

2. Link hospitality reopening to vaccines and the preservation of life

3. Recognise the safety of hospitality

Hospitality businesses will not be starting from scratch but from a high baseline standard of safety already in place and proven to keep people safe.

4. Set clear reopening ambitions on 22nd February 

Businesses and consumers want to have as much information to plan with as possible.

5. Begin gradual regional reopening once top-4 priority groups are protected

6. A time-limited transitionary system from early April

A transitionary system, building on the measures introduced in July 2020, would enable a return to trading with minimal health risks. These could be reviewed in two-three weeks, with rules relaxed as appropriate.

7. Revert to a national system of controls from mid-June

This is the time for a more normalised trading regime.

8. Explore a safe way to open up international travel

while it is important to get the domestic economy moving it is critical for the hospitality sector, and the wider economy, that international travel returns.

9. Foster consumer confidence and a return to our great cities

Government should work with business and consumer groups to reinforce safety measures that are in place and ensure people feel safe.

10. Underpin the recovery with business support

Extending the 5% VAT rate, and applying it to a wider scope of hospitality, coupled with a 100% business rates holiday will stimulate economic activity and reduce costs. These measures, alongside steps to rebuild businesses such as dealing with rent debt, will be vital in returning hospitality to being an engine of economic and employment growth.

Out of touch

The notion that the government is somewhow out of touch with the sector, which has also been the driver of the campaign for a hospitality minister, is once again making itself felt.

Many responded to the UKHospitality leader's column in The Telegraph, reiterating the point that has been painstakingly made time and time again for almost a year. 

 

We asked our readers what they thought was a realistic timeframe to reopen - and what they needed to make it possible, to which they said:

 

Do you agree with UKHospitality on the 10 points above? Do you feel optimistic about Monday's roadmap, and what are you hoping to hear from the Prime Minister? We'd love to hear from you, get in touch via our social channels or in the comments section below.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 19th February 2021

‘This is an industry that is clearly already on its knees’