Hospitality bosses have renewed calls for a visa scheme to allow workers to come to the UK and plug vacancies.
The move comes after the government announced over the weekend that short-term visas will become available in the run-up to Christmas to tackle shortages of HGV drivers and supply chain disruption.
The government said 5,000 HGV drivers will be able to come to the UK for three months with a further 5,500 visas available for poultry workers. Recruitment will begin in October and these visas will be valid until 24 December 2021.
Some hospitality businesses have hundreds of roles that need filling, with venues forced to reduce trading hours or even close due to the shortages.
More than 65 hospitality leaders, including Richard Caring, chef Yotam Ottolenghi and Pret co-founder Sinclair Beecham, have written to the prime minister demanding immigration requirements for hospitality workers be eased urgently.
The letter, published in the Financial Times, said it was "critical" that roles such as chefs, bartenders and sommeliers be added to the shortage occupation list and warned the sector is "close to imploding".
Corbin & King's Soutine in London announced last week that it would have to close temporarily due to recruitment issues, while last month Hang Fire Southern Kitchen in Barry closed permanently due to staff shortages. Michel Roux Jr has been forced to pause lunch service at the two-Michelin-starred Le Gavroche restaurant in London's Mayfair.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), hospitality businesses were more than twice as likely than other industries to be experiencing challenges in filling vacancies for this time of year. A study found that 30% of hospitality operators said it was more difficult than normal to find staff, compared to 13% across all other sectors.
The mayor of London has backed calls for the government to introduce a Covid recovery visa to plug the shortage of workers across industries including hospitality.