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HospoDemo live blog: chef Tom Aikens says restrictions are not working and warns of impact on London hospitality

19 October 2020 by
HospoDemo live blog: chef Tom Aikens says restrictions are not working and warns of impact on London hospitality

Chef-restaurateur Tom Aikens attending today's HospoDemo protest said that government restrictions on hospitality are not working and without further support, "there are going to be no hotels or restaurants left in London".

Aikens told The Caterer: "Quite frankly at the minute we're all rather peeved off with how the government is treating us and we seem to be like the guinea pigs in terms of, ‘OK, let's try this, let's try this' and none of it is working.

"We've had the 10pm curfew, that has obviously obliterated quite a lot of the reservations, and now we've had the second tier system and 50% of our bookings have literally just been wiped out, so unless this government really helps us and turns it around, there are going to be no hotels or restaurants left in London."

Meanwhile, restaurateur Yotam Ottolenghi, who attended the demo with his team, said Tier 2 rules are "suffocating our industry".

Speaking to The Caterer, he said: "We are all here, myself and the Ottolenghi team, to protest against the ludicrous Tier 2 rules which are really suffocating our industry and devoiding us of customers.

"People were coming through the door, not massively, but they were coming up until now, and now we've got this incredible drop in numbers."

HospoDemo
HospoDemo

Hospitality workers have descended on Westminster to protest the successive blows restrictions have dealt the industry in recent months and call for further support for businesses and employees.

Business owners, team members and supporters from across the industry have gathered on London's Parliament Square, using pots, pans, ladles and other tools of their trade to make noise and grab the attention of politicians.

HospoDemo has been organised by marketing professional Rachel Harty. Peaceful protestors are expected to include Jason Atherton, Tom Aikens and Jillian Maclean.

Harty said: "The hospitality industry has had huge restrictions placed on it ever since lockdown and it has responded incredibly well with all the different measures they've taken to make their businesses highly controlled environments.

"With the latest Tier 2 restrictions, businesses are finding that their customer base has been pretty much wiped out... we would like to see decisions that really affect people's livelihoods based on facts and we'd also like them to look at sector-specific support for people in the industry because there is very soon going to be a huge amount of people in serious poverty."

Andrea Montague, trade ambassador for Bacardi Portfolio (pictured below, right), said: "We can't open, we've got so many restrictions on us that we're literally about to collapse, the industry is so fragile as it is and there's been no help, there's been no support."

Rory Foster, a general manager with Street Feast, said: "We want these rules to be reversed, we want them to look at the scientific facts".

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: "I support those from across our hospitality sector protesting today deeply anxious about their future.

"The huge failures in the test and trace system have meant that further Covid restrictions are now necessary, but our bars, restaurants and other venues must now get the extra financial support they need urgently to stay afloat.

"The 80% furlough scheme was a lifeline for many businesses at the start of the pandemic, and it is this level of support London's hospitality sector now needs to prevent further widespread unemployment and ensure this world-leading sector can return to business when the virus is under control.

"Until the government gets a grip on this virus, ministers have an obligation to give businesses the support they need to survive while restrictions remain in place."

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