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UKHospitality calls for targeted financial support for operators affected by local lockdowns

30 June 2020 by
UKHospitality calls for targeted financial support for operators affected by local lockdowns

Targeted financial support is needed for businesses who are unable to reopen on 4 July says UKHospitality, as Leicester operators are forced to put opening plans on hold.

Following the UK's first local lockdown which was implemented in Leicester today, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has called for additional support for businesses if local flare-ups of coronavirus force further closures.

Nicholls said: "If local lockdowns are going to be a feature of the national reopening, then it must be accompanied by targeted support. The furlough scheme provides a degree of flexibility, but we need financial support for those businesses not able to open but still staring huge bills in the face."

Operators in Leicester will not be permitted to open their businesses this Saturday in line with the rest of England after the UK's first full local lockdown was implemented.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said that the city had 10% of all positive cases in England in the past week and as a result, only essential travel was permitted in the city, while all non-essential retail had to close. The measures will last for at least two weeks.

The government had first contacted Leicester's mayor Sir Peter Soulsby to recommend delaying the relaxing of restrictions, including the reopening of hospitality businesses.

East Midlands Chamber chief executive Scott Knowles said: "Although the whole economy has been affected by the pandemic, some sectors and areas have been hit harder than others, hospitality and the visitor economy in particular, meaning the UK's recovery will be sectoral and localised.

"Ongoing, flexible and targeted support from government must be provided to the worst-affected sectors and local areas to avoid creating a two-tier recovery which could leave certain sectors and areas lagging behind."

Loungers, which operates a Cosy Club in the city, said it had planned to reopen the site on 8 July with staff lined up to work.

Chairman Alex Reilly said: "The only blessing is that it's happened before we've reopened. If it had happened after reopening it would have been a massive inconvenience and would have undoubtedly resulted in loss of stock – as well, of course, of earnings."

He added: "As demonstrated by the government's action today, localised lockdowns are a reality and we'll need to ‘roll with the punches' if more follow over the course of the next few weeks or months."

Charlie Mitchell, research and insight director at CGA, commented: "We saw a huge change in consumer attitude following the announcement of ‘one-metre-plus', whereby consumers were, almost immediately, far more likely to be comfortable at a distance of one metre rather than two, highlighting a trust in government advice and a need for clarity of messaging.

"With localised outbreaks, similar procedural and regulatory consistency, where possible, will serve to inform both consumers and operators of protocols and maintain remaining consumer confidence."

Speaking on the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, home secretary Priti Patel it was "right" that the government had a "localised solution in terms of infection control, social distancing, testing" in order to contain the spread of the virus.

Leicester has seen 866 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the last two weeks and had been highlighted as a hotbed for the virus.

Photo: Shutterstock

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