The Handbook
The Handbook

The Prime Minister yesterday revealed his ‘roadmap’ for reopening Britain. And as far as restaurants are concerned it’s a mixed bag. Finally there are dates that chefs can mark on a calendar, but sadly they’re later than a lot of businesses will be able to afford. Now it’s time for the government to follow up with support.

Boris spoke to the nation last night, having already spoken to Parliament earlier that day and presumably having already spoken to the newspaper editors before that given all the weekend press reports were bang-on correct, to tell us what the plan going forward is. For all fans of meeting in the cold for park-bench picnics, respite comes early on 8th March. But if you’re craving a roast lunch in front of the fire your favourite pub, then we’re now waiting for 17th May. A timeline which could easily find itself extended, especially if school children turn out to be the covid-spreading critters everyone fears…

We’re pretty clear that a NOTHER lockdown would be catastrophic and so Boris’s new-found caution seems to be relatively sensible, but it’s a huge burden for hospitality.

The sector has borne the brunt of the pandemic, remaining shut for the best part of a year. There has been some government help, the furlough scheme remains world-class and the lower VAT rates, Eat Out To Help Out, grants and business rates breaks have all been well received. But even with all that help, most businesses have now burnt through their reserves.

Of course other industries have seen sales sky-rocket through all this. It’s hard to look at the likes of Amazon or the big supermarkets and not feel a pang of the unfairness.

Now it’s time for the government to step forward with more help for hospitality. The crucial sector is one that everyone relies on, not least the millions of people employed in the sector. The last financial crisis saw restaurants wiped off the face of the economy in a blitz that’s taken a decade to recover from, and the current plans to not allow diners inside restaurants until mid May (or outside from mid April) leaves the industry facing a similar level of decimation.

Nightclubs and gig venues have it even worse, they’re slated for reopening on June 21st.

What’s needed is government intervention and now. Boris yesterday told parliament that nobody should be allowed to fall through the net and his Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, will be following up with a package to help out.

It's been one hell of a year for hospitality, Rishi and Boris please don't forget us the moment the jabs are done...

Our request is that as well as extending the current help, the government now goes further. The current measures need to extend beyond the reopening. It’s not okay to shut off furlough on May 18th, for instance.

We’d also like to see further targeted help in the form of public money in grants and low or no interest loans to ensure that no restaurant, pub, bar or venue in otherwise good financial standing needs to go under.

And we’d also like to see another Eat Out To Help Out scheme this summer, stretching for longer as the various stages of reopening take place.

It’s been one hell of a year for hospitality, Rishi and Boris please don’t forget us the moment the jabs are done…


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