Welsh hospitality businesses say they face struggle to survive into the New Year with harsher restrictions

30 November 2020 by
Welsh hospitality businesses say they face struggle to survive into the New Year with harsher restrictions

Welsh restaurants, pubs and hotels face a struggle to survive into the New Year with new coronavirus restrictions set to impact crucial pre-Christmas trade, industry members have warned.

It was announced that from 4 December all restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes in Wales will be banned from serving alcohol and will have to close by 6pm, except for takeaway and delivery.

UKHospitality Cymru said it was a "massive blow" as the festive period accounts for up to 25% of annual turnover for many businesses.

Si Toft, chef owner of the one-AA-rosette Dining Room in Abersoch, told The Caterer his restaurant would struggle to stay afloat without the usual Christmas trade.

Toft said: "We'll keep fighting it and see what we can do but I can't see us getting out of it now. There's a cost to closing and reopening.

"We'll do what we can. Over the Christmas period we usually have a month of decent trade then not a lot until March."

He added that being in a rural location it was not feasible for him to offer takeaway or delivery to ‘a few hundred' people in the local area.

The Welsh government said it will review the restrictions by 17 December and then every three weeks, but Toft is sceptical the rules will change before next year.

"In an area like this the December period gets us through until Easter. It's not just about losing this month, it's what happens in the two or three months after."

In Abergavenny William Griffiths, co-owner of the Angel Hotel, said it would be impossible to open for guests until restrictions were lifted. The hotel's sister site The Walnut Tree Inn will be open for lunch Wednesday to Saturday.

Griffiths said: "It is simply not viable for us to open the business partially and with a limited offer due to the complexity and scale of our operation."

The Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective (WIRC) called the rules a ‘body blow' for businesses that had planned for a clear period of trading after Wales' 17-day firebreak lockdown ended in November.

It added that the £340m support package announced by the Welsh government needed to "find its way quickly and fairly to those who need it".

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said the curfew and alcohol ban would ‘destroy' the 3,227 pubs in Wales.

"When you factor in that December, with the festive season, is the most important time of the year for pub goers and our sector, this really couldn't come at a worse time," said Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA.

UKHospitality Cymru welcomed the announcement of a support package but warned that the many pubs and restaurants the restrictions would be a ‘hurdle too many'.

"There is still a long way to do before the sector is anywhere near to being out of the woods, but the quick and pragmatic approach to support being shown by the Welsh Government will give more businesses a better chance of making it through," said David Chapman, executive director of UKHospitality Cymru.

Toft said: "I get that something had to be done, but I don't understand why it's [hospitality] that is being scapegoated again."

Image: Shutterstock

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