Coronavirus

UKH calls for gov support amid threat of further restrictions

Reports over the weekend indicated the government could be considering a two-week ‘circuit-breaker’ that would see a ban on indoor mixing and hospitality venues forced to operate with outside seating only

UKHospitality has called on the government to provide the necessary support to the hospitality sector amid reports that further restrictions to help battle the surge in Omicron cases could soon be announced.

UKH chief executive Kate Nicholls said that need for support comes as trading has already been “hugely damaged by the steady stream of pessimistic news following the discovery of the Omicron variant”.

She added this has come at a time when hospitality would normally expect to be making a quarter of its annual profits.

Reports over the weekend indicated the government could be considering a two-week ‘circuit-breaker’ that would see a ban on indoor mixing and hospitality venues forced to operate with outside seating only.

Commenting, Nicholls said: “We know from previous lockdowns that it causes venues to haemorrhage cash. It costs £10,000 to close each site and a subsequent £10,000 per month on overheads, and that was with full furlough and rate relief. The damage that closure wreaks on consumer confidence would also increase recovery time considerably, not least because it would be coming early in the year, at the slowest period of trading.

“Hospitality venues have invested huge amounts of money and resources to ensure a safe environment for customers and staff alike. Throughout the pandemic, businesses have always wanted to trade their way through to recovery and that sentiment is stronger now than ever.”

She added: “However, trading levels are so poor that the need for proportionate Government support is already acute, and urgently necessary if businesses, jobs and livelihoods are to be secured. An extension to business rates relief and the lower VAT rate will help longer term planning and budgeting but speedily delivered grants will be vital to short-term business survival.

“To minimise further damage, it is also crucial that the Government gives as early a signal as possible about whether measures are to be imposed and what they might be, in order to allow businesses to salvage something from Christmas and the New Year.”

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