The chair of the Bristol Hoteliers Association has called on the government to use hotels to boost the UK’s vaccine rollout.
He said the move, which would use currently unutilised venues, would support local GPs as well as Ashton Gate, which will become one of seven vaccination ‘super centres’ across England from next week.
He added that hotels have invested a lot of money into introducing and implementing measures to make premises as safe and clean as possible, making them “ideal” venues for vaccination centres.
Raphael Herzog said: “We know that the focus is on these vaccines, with the government trying to vaccinate as many people as possible by March. But two million people per week is not enough to get us out of this crisis before June.
“Why doesn’t the government use hotels to vaccinate people? We can be trained to do this, and it would help to significantly speed up the process, which is in the best interests of everyone. We want to do what is best for the public and to get us out of this crisis as soon as possible.”
Herzog has also called for a “more sustainable” round of support grants from the government, after warning that hospitality businesses will be hit particularly hard by the latest lockdown.
Despite the new grants of up to £9,000 for hospitality businesses, Herzog said it was “little more than a token gesture”. He has also called for a reduced rate of VAT for hospitality through the whole of 2021, a business rates holiday for 2021/22 and “extensive” government promotion of the UK’s tourism and hospitality sector.
He said: “Up to £9,000 is simply not enough when most hotels have many times more that amount in terms of costs every month – even when we are closed – with no income coming in.
“The reduced rate of VAT only benefits us when we are able to trade, so under national lockdown conditions. or under Tier 3, this is of no benefit, either.”
He added he will also “await with interest” the outcome of a parliamentary debate on 11 January in response to a petition calling for the appointment of a dedicated Minister for Hospitality, which attracted more than 190,000 signatures.