More details on the hospitality sector's roadmap to reopening are expected to be clarified towards the middle of February.
That is according to Lord Callanan, parliamentary under-secretary for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), who was responding to a question in the House of Lords earlier today regarding the minister for hospitality campaign.
In response to the question from Lord Caine regarding the petition, which seeks to establish a dedicated ministerial position to oversee the industry, Lord Callanan said both departments responsible for the hospitality sector, BEIS and the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), are "working closely together to ensure that the sector's interests are strongly represented in government". However, a decision is not yet understood to have been made.
He added: "Whatever is decided, we will work to ensure the sector is in the best possible place to bounce back from Covid-19 so that it plays a leading role in the UK's economic and social recovery."
There were also multiple calls for clarity over when the sector will be able to reopen. However, Lord Callanan said: "We can't have a roadmap at this stage because we as yet do not have enough data to know exactly how soon it will be safe to reopen". He added that "the picture will hopefully be clearer by mid-February".
He also said: "We will not keep the restrictions for a day longer than is absolutely necessary."
Questions echoed points debated in Parliament last month, including whether the government would consider creating an interim hospitality industry recovery minister and calls for an extension of the current VAT cut and business rates holiday.
Lord Callanan said he would ensure the latter comments were "passed on to the chancellor", as no further news is expected on business rates or VAT until the Budget on 3 March, although a treasury minister said last week that there were "no current plans" to further extend the reduction in VAT.