An extended period of social distancing could cost one million jobs in the hospitality sector unless measures to protect businesses are put in place, according to UKHospitality.
After chief medical adviser professor Chris Whitty warned yesterday that social distancing measures could last beyond 2020, UKHospitality wrote to MP Michael Gove recommending a six-point plan to help the country's hospitality businesses reopen following the crisis.
The letter highlights how many hospitality businesses would not be able to operate profitably while implementing social distancing measures and set out the need for a pragmatic, evidence-based plan to help businesses open when it is safe to do so.
The letter stressed the need for a phased approach to avoid a ‘yo-yo effect' of openings and closures which could see businesses fail and up to one million jobs lost.
The six-point plan recommends:
- Extension of the furlough scheme beyond the end of June for hospitality
- Legislative intervention on rent payments
- Improved access to capital
- A comprehensive fiscal package to stimulate demand post-crisis
- An overhaul of business regulation
- Guaranteeing a functioning and responsive insurance market
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "With social distancing measures still in place, reopening the hospitality sector without a plan would be catastrophic. The hospitality sector was one of the first hit by the crisis and the hardest hit in terms of lost revenue. It will also be one of the last to fully emerge from the lockdown.
"An extended period of social distancing will mean that many hospitality businesses will not be able to operate fully, and many will not be able to open at all. Hospitality is a sector built around socialising, so there must to be government support for businesses that continue to be hit by this crisis.
"We need a plan of phased opening for our sector. For those businesses that can trade safely with social distancing measures still in place, they should be able to. For the many venues where it is not possible, support, such as the furlough scheme, must be extended to make sure these businesses stay alive and jobs kept open. We can't have a situation where, overnight, the entire sector is suddenly expected to hit the ground running.
"If the correct support is not in made available to help businesses get back to work when the time is right, then businesses will have survived the immediate crisis only to find themselves out of business during the aftermath."