The Daily Telegraph
Hospitality leaders warn of ‘devastating’ impact of four-week delay to end of lockdown
HOSPITALITY leaders have hit out at the “devastating” decision to delay the lifting of all final lockdown restrictions amid warnings that the industry faces a £3billion hit during one of its busiest trading periods.
With infection rates soaring and hospital admissions ticking upwards, Boris Johnson confirmed that the rule of six, table service and social distancing would continue to be required by venues for a further four weeks.
The delay is now expected to cost the pub industry up to £100million a week, with 2,300 venues still closed due to the restrictions making reopening unviable.
Across the entire hospitality sector, as many as one in four businesses are yet to reopen, with those that are trading said to be generating just two thirds of the revenue they would normally make during the busy summer period.
Industry leaders said that the delay would blow a £3billion hole in the income they would have made had the restrictions been lifted on time, in turn putting up to 300,000 jobs at risk.
Others also warned of the potential impact on public compliance, amid reports that some venues are experiencing greater “push back” from customers when trying to enforce mask wearing and the requirement to check in to the NHS Test and Trace app.
Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UK Hospitality, said: “It is really devastating news. This is going to be incredibly challenging for businesses to manage. The industry is operating below profitability. Every day that they are open with these restrictions increases their losses and drives them closer towards being unviable.
“The lack of additional support … will undoubtedly have an impact on their financial viability and jobs. We’ve got one in four hospitality businesses that haven’t opened yet. June 21 was their restart date, so they are at the greatest risk.
“The remaining 75 per cent are operating at best at two thirds of normal revenue level. To have to survive four more weeks will mean they lose £3billion in revenue that they would otherwise have earned.”
Ms Nicholls said that the delay would be compounded by the Treasury’s decision not to extend the generosity of the government’s Covid support schemes.
The furlough scheme is due to be tapered from July, with firms asked to contribute 10 per cent towards employees’ wages. Business rates bills are also due to resume next month, while rent protections will also fall away.
“It’s a double whammy of extra restrictions and sub-economic trading, and a significant increase in costs at the same time,” Ms Nicholls added.