Boxing Day shutdown: growing anger over lack of financial support for hospitality

24 December 2020 by
Boxing Day shutdown: growing anger over lack of financial support for hospitality

Hospitality trade bodies have warned that the sector needs urgent financial support from government as more restaurants, hotels and pubs in England face closure from Boxing Day.

UKHospitality called for the introduction of immediate relief measures for the industry, with chief executive Kate Nicholls warning that the sector faces "collapse".

Yesterday's government announcement means that from 26 December only the Isles of Scilly will remain in Tier 1, with the majority of England moving up to the strictest Tier 3 and 4 measures, which force hospitality to close except for takeaway and delivery.

Areas including parts of Sussex will move from Tier 2 to 4, and the lack of notice means that many businesses have already ordered stock and taken bookings for the festive period.

But there was no accompanying announcement of a financial package from chancellor Rishi Sunak, with many industry voices calling out for more support.

Nicholls tweeted: "[The] best any open business can manage is just 15% of normal revenues. Over 95% hospitality closed. 80% by law and the remainder because it isn't possible to trade. It means hospitality has only traded normally for nine weeks in 2020."

She added: "These urgent restrictive actions require equally urgent accompanying financial supports for businesses, many more of which have been flung closer to commercial failure."

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) estimates that 82% of pubs are now in Tier 3 or 4, and 94% are unviable.

"It is clear that it is going to be the longest winter in living memory for Britain's pubs and brewers," said BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin.

"Unless there is a greater package of financial support from the government to secure our pubs and the brewers that supply them, a wave of business failures in the New Year is inevitable."

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) said any requests for a long-term government strategy or commitment to support the sector had "all but been dismissed".

"If the government expects the hardest-hit sectors to continue to support them in its public health strategy against Covid, then they must help these same businesses by compensating them for their losses, and deliver a robust exit strategy to regain industry confidence," said NTIA chief executive Michael Kill.

Nicholls added that the rise in new coronavirus cases had occurred while much of the hospitality industry in affected areas had been shut down.

She said: "While the government looks now to address the immediate problem, it must recognise that hospitality was largely shut when transmissions were rising, so was not the hotbed of infection it has often been accused to have been.

"The incessant hammering of hospitality businesses must be followed up with an equally exaggerated raft of support to rescue the sector when the virus is under better control, or many jobs and livelihoods will have been sacrificed for little effect."

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