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Hospitality industry calls for support following Plan B announcement

From Friday 10 December, face coverings will become compulsory in most public indoor venues, such as cinemas, theatres and places of worship

The hospitality industry has called for more government support following the Prime Minister’s announcement that England will move to Plan B following the spread of the Omicron variant in the UK.

Associations across the industry warned of the impact the announcement will have on consumer confidence over the Christmas period.

As part of Plan B, from Friday 10 December, face coverings will become compulsory in most public indoor venues, though there will be exemptions in venues where it is not practical to wear one, such as when you are eating and drinking.

From Wednesday 15 December, however, the NHS Covid Pass on the NHS App will become mandatory for entry into nightclubs and settings where large crowds gather.This includes unseated indoor events with 500 or more attendees, unseated outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees and any event with 10,000 or more attendees.

Commenting on the news, Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKH said: “While the government clearly acknowledges that hospitality is safe and can continue to host celebrations in the lead up to Christmas, the measures announced today will significantly impact consumer confidence and be particularly devastating to city and town centre venues.

“As such, they risk devastating the hospitality sector amid its most important time of the year. We therefore desperately need support if we are to survive this latest set of restrictions and urge the government to stand behind our industry.”

The Bristol Hotelier Association (BHA), however, said that people can still “party with confidence” over the Christmas period.

BHA chairman Raphael Herzog said that people should feel confident about booking Christmas parties at hotels and should be reassured that they will be “as safe as possible”.

He said: “We have all invested significantly in making sure our premises are as Covid-safe as they can possibly be. It’s safer to stay in a hotel having a drink at a table, with dinner served, than it is visiting a shopping mall or a grocery store.

“It’s safer for people to socialise in Covid-secure hotels and restaurants rather than have parties in their own flats, houses or gardens, which is what we are afraid people will choose to do now that they have been asked to work from home wherever possible.”

He added: “It’s one thing for the Prime Minister to say people should not cancel their parties, but we would like the government to go further, and to emphasise just how much time and money has been spent by hospitality businesses in creating safe environments.”

Nonetheless, he warned that any further restrictions would be a “massive blow” to the industry.

He said: “As well as some Christmas functions being cancelled, we’re also aware of many companies having second thoughts about booking events for the first few months of next year, and we would urge them to re-consider, as our hotels are as safe as they can possibly be.

“We need support, not only from the government, but from other companies and customers to help with our long-term recovery from the impact of the pandemic.”

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