The Prime Minister has extended the final stages of easing restrictions by another four weeks, which will cost the hospitality sector £3bn in lost sales.
This is a hammer blow to the hospitality sector which have been hit the hardest and Boris Johnson has simply “switched the lights off” for the pub and nightclub sectors.
Pubs and restaurants will have to stay operating at limited capacity whilst nightclubs remain shuttered which has now placed 300,000 jobs at risk.
Michael Kill, NTIA CEO told LondonLovesBusiness, “This is a hugely devastating blow for the very industries that have been hardest hit by this pandemic; in a very real sense, the Prime Minister has ‘switched the lights off’ for an entire sector.
“Many businesses have not survived this pandemic and others are on a financial cliff-edge, unable to operate viably. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have already been lost, a huge pool of creative talent has been swept away, and we have been left to suffer extreme financial hardship.
“This delay will drive confidence in the sector to a new low, culminating in more of our workforce being forced to leave the industry, and customers, who have been starved of social engagement, attending illegal unregulated events in place of businesses that are well-operated, licensed and regulated.
“These businesses are overburdened with debt and so any decision to delay the full reopening of our sector must be paired with a robust financial support package, including additional restriction grants, exclusion from furlough contributions, extension of loan repayment holiday for CBILS/BBS as well as business rates and VAT relief for the next 12 months, not forgetting the £2.6 billion in commercial rent debt left unresolved.
“The Government must understand the human impact of this decision, not only considering the public health challenges of the virus but also the people within our sector who are suffering terribly and the real health risks that this represents. This is particularly important given the overwhelming confidence in the vaccination rollout, and the ability for our sector to deliver Covid safe and regulated environments.
“Distressed industries cannot continue to be held in limbo, with thousands of businesses left to fall. This delay, which again offers no clarity on when businesses can open, is leaving many in the industry angry and frustrated, alongside other businesses who have been locked down or restricted from opening through no fault of their own, and at their own cost.”
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality said the industry has already lost a staggering £87bn in sales since the pandemic started.
She said that more support is needed and “simply put, if the supports provided by the chancellor are not sustained and adjusted, businesses will fail and getting this far will count for nought.”
The furlough scheme is coming to an end and businesses that are shuttered with no income will be forced to somehow start to contribute to making furlough payments.