The curfew could sound the death knell for an industry that is being forced to reinvent itself with every new set of rules, says David Moore.
Pied à Terre reopened on 2 September for four days a week instead of six, and with 11 tables instead of 14. We opened to a full house, with strong bookings for private dining and the chef's table.
The rule of six came in two weeks later, on 14 September, and almost wiped out our private dining bookings for the rest of the month, but we pushed on.
When the 10pm curfew came in, we dropped about a third of our business from one week to the next. But we came back with all-day dining, encouraging people to eat at 4pm or 5pm and turning the tables at 7pm or 7.30pm. It's working, but it hasn't balanced the books – we are basically down on being down.
Coronavirus is here to stay – there is no getting away from it, and we all have to do our bit. At Pied à Terre, we have a fogging machine that sanitises every surface, which we use twice a day, and sanitising gel is on every corner and table. All staff wear visors and we temperature-check staff twice a day, as well as every guest entering the premises.
What we do is pretty standard and the stats show that hospitality contributed around 3% to new Covid cases. So why do we get such a crazy curfew imposed on us? It beggars belief, and when I see what is happening in Scotland with the 6pm curfew, I just shake my head.
The stats show that hospitality contributed around 3% to new Covid cases. So why do we get such a crazy curfew imposed on us? It beggars belief
There is no sense in hospitality premises turning out their customers at 10pm. It has undoubtedly been a total disaster. Have 10pm as a last entry time, and then guests can stay until closing; if they leave they will not be able to go to another establishment.
Boris, I'm here if you need me, and I think you do need me or other industry insiders to help create the plan. Our industry needs a voice, we need respect, so I'm calling for a minister of hospitality. Why can't you wake up, see the amazing industry you have brought to its knees and deliver some hope, a voice, a team who can work on a strategy that delivers a workable hospitality industry and minimises Covid transmission? Please talk to us.
Approximately 44,000 people die a year in the UK from sepsis, while the running total for Covid is 42,000. Not that I'm trivialising it – every death is a story and a family – but I'm adding some medical context. Some 95,000 people die from smoking-related illnesses and the government does nothing about that except tax them 50p a packet more every year. The worldwide smoking-related death total is seven million a year, but nothing is done because the smoking lobby has deep pockets and has been networking with governments for decades. Hospitality has little or no voice – give us our minister.
Boris, please do not follow Nicola Sturgeon. We are an industry on our knees and what we need is a loosening of regulations, not tightening. We have shown we can be trusted, and if there are some rotten apples, deal with them. But don't close the industry because some people, a minority, have behaved badly, have been filmed and have been shown on the news not social distancing or not wearing face coverings. They are the few; sanction the establishments not monitoring it properly.
Hospitality needs to see the government deliver on removing the curfew and allowing larger groups to be seated in a pub or restaurant. I can have a group of 10 in my private dining room if they are having a business meeting, but I can't have them there to dine. Madness!
If the government is not careful, it will be last orders for many more operators, which will result in hundreds of thousands of unemployed.
Remember, in 2008 we spent £500b saving the banks. Hospitality only needs a fraction of that to help it get through this.
Boris et al have to get it right.
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