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Hospitality firms on a ‘knife edge’, warns UKHospitality

UKHospitality has warned that the industry is on a “knife edge” following Boris Johnson’s announcement that England will enter into a new national lockdown on 5 November. 

A statement published by the trade body stressed that the hospitality industry has already been “pushed to the limits”, with many business owners failing to recover from the first lockdown imposed in March. 

UKH chief Kate Nicholls said: “The costs to hospitality businesses of a second lockdown will be even heavier than the first, coming after periods of forced closure, the accumulation of mass debt and then significantly lower trading due to the restrictions of recent weeks.

“The sector was hit hardest and first, and this recent shutdown will hurt for months and years to come. The extension of furlough for a further month does help to protect our workforce during this difficult time.If hospitality, the sector that is our country’s third largest employer, is to survive and help drive economic recovery, it will need equivalent – or more – support than that of the first lockdown.”

She added: “Hospitality businesses have already been pushed to the limits, with many closures already. For those that have survived, viability is on a knife edge, as is the future of the tens of thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of jobs that depend on hospitality, including through its supply chain, right across the country.

On 31 October the PM announced a four week lockdown for England, under these restrictions all pubs and restaurants must close from Thursday 5 November until 2 December. 

At the time Johnson told a news conference that he was “truly, truly sorry” for the impact on businesses, but promised the furlough system paying 80% of employee wages will be extended through November.

It follows results released by the group last week that hospitality sales in the UK have fallen by 48% in the third quarter.  

Nicholls concluded:“It is critical that businesses are given a lifeline to survive the winter, before being given the support to enter a revival phase in 2021, as the nation’s prospects improve. 

“A clear roadmap out of lockdown and through the tiers will also be vital for businesses to plan their survival and the safeguarding of hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

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