Concern for hospitality sector as PM announces second lockdown
“The Government must provide further support for businesses in the hospitality and foodservice industry in order to stop them shutting their doors for good during the nation’s second lockdown,” according to Ian Wright CBE, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).
On Saturday evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson rolled out a series a restrictions to place England into a second lockdown period, starting from 5th November until at least 2nd December. Speculation is already rife that the lockdown period required may be longer.
These measures will force restaurants, pubs and bars to close, but they will still be able to offer takeaway and delivery services. The measure also currently proposes that after 2nd December, the country will move back to the regional tier system.
Following the announcement, Boris Johnson revealed that the furlough scheme, which was due to end at the end of October, will be extended until 2nd December in order to accommodate the new measures. The scheme will see the Government pay 80% of the wages of workers whose industries have been impacted by the lockdown. However Pension and NI will be paid by employers.
Ian Wright CBE, chief executive of the FDF, is calling on Government to do more in order to protect businesses and jobs within the foodservice sector. He said: “Confirmation that the furlough scheme will be extended is extremely welcome news for food and drink businesses who continue to feed the nation. However, we need further clarity that the food supply chain will be supported sufficiently.
“Without further reassurance thousands of jobs will be under threat as businesses consider closing their doors for good. The economic impacts of this decision threaten calamity unless we see further details of a rescue package in the next 72 hours.”
UKHospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said: “Public health objectives are, rightly, the motive for the new measures, and for that reason we entirely support whatever proportionate action is necessary.
“The costs to hospitality businesses of a second lockdown will be even heavier than the first, coming after periods of forced closure, the accumulation of mass debt and then significantly lower trading due to the restrictions of recent weeks. The sector was hit hardest and first, and this recent shutdown will hurt for months and years to come. The extension of furlough for a further month does help to protect our workforce during this difficult time.
“If hospitality, the sector that is our country’s third largest employer, is to survive and help drive economic recovery, it will need equivalent – or more – support than that of the first lockdown.
“Hospitality businesses have already been pushed to the limits, with many closures already. For those that have survived, viability is on a knife edge, as is the future of the tens of thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of jobs that depend on hospitality, including through its supply chain, right across the country.
“It is critical that businesses are given a lifeline to survive the winter, before being given the support to enter a revival phase in 2021, as the nation’s prospects improve. A clear roadmap out of lockdown and through the tiers will also be vital for businesses to plan their survival, and the safeguarding of hundreds of thousands of jobs.
“It is important to remember that some parts of hospitality, such as nightclubs, have not even been allowed to re-open. The support for those, now that potential reopening has been kicked further into the future, must be redoubled to ensure that they are not lost forever.”