Hospitality businesses in Jersey have urged the island's government to take similar measures to those announced by the UK government last week and close restaurants while supporting staff salaries.
While clubs, bars and pubs that do not sell food have been closed, restaurants remain open on the island.
Jersey’s government has introduced a coronavirus payroll co-funding scheme, which will see up to £200 per week paid to islanders working in the hospitality sector over the next six weeks, with the first payment due at the beginning of April.
However, Simon Soar, chief executive of the Jersey Hospitality Association, has said this is not enough and called on the government to follow the UK, where businesses are eligible for grants to cover up to 80% of wages of people not working but being kept on payrolls with up to £2,500 a month per employee available.
Soar said: “Businesses are obviously trying to pay wages and it’s a concern to them, that needs to be covered off and people need to be told to close for now. Those that are trying to stay open so they can keep their staff being paid are then getting a lot of online abuse.”
Over the weekend chef Mark Jordan of Mark Jordan at the Beach posted an emotional video to Twitter pleading with the Jersey government to step in.
He said: “All these people who rely on me, rely on my business, rely on me keeping them safe so that they can go home to their families, that they can feed their kids, that they can feed their family, keep them safe, pay their bills. At this moment I can’t do that and it’s the worst feeling that I’ve ever had in the 17 years of being on this island.”
Soar said: “I’ve had phone calls of the same ilk for the last week from my members… it’s heartbreaking.”
Companies including Seymour Hotels and Randalls pubs signed a letter to the chief minister last week describing the government’s lack of urgency as “ridiculous and infuriating”.
Callum Graham, head chef at Jersey’s Michelin-starred Bohemia restaurant, tweeted: “Time for @GovJersey to step up like The Government in the UK did... we are waiting.”
Jersey Hospitality Association has launched a secondment scheme in partnership with local recruitment agency GR8 recruitment in which hospitality workers can be seconded to areas such as supermarkets or care homes. More than 500 people have already signed up to the scheme.
“Our view is to try and save as many jobs as we can,” said Soar.