The nation’s bars, restaurants and pubs will yet again close this Thursday 5th November following Boris Johnson’s new national lockdown rules announced over the weekend.
The news comes as the final nail in the coffin for many in the hospitality industry who are desperately trying to keep their heads above water amidst the ongoing global pandemic. Many have lost their jobs, an unimaginable amount of businesses have closed for good and for those who have managed to stay open, takings have been down considerably. August’s patchwork plan of the Eat Out To Help Out scheme has only been able to do so much.
Reasonably, there is mixed emotion from those working in the hospitality industry. While lockdown 2.0 is to ensure the NHS doesn’t get overwhelmed by the spread of the virus, many feel not enough has been done by the government to protect the country’s pubs and restaurants while universities are allowed to remain open.
This chart has been doing the rounds on social media, with many key figures in the food and drinks industry sharing it.
The data comes from Public Health England and shows the percentages of traceable COVID-19 infections outside of the home; 22% coming from schools and universities, 24% from workplace, 29% from care homes and just 2% from food outlets and restaurants.
Understandably it’s left those working in the hospitality industry angry, frustrated and worried that there could be far more job loses and business closures than March’s lockdown caused. Despite the furlough scheme being extended throughout November, the period from Halloween through to Christmas is when the hospitality industry takes a huge chunk of its takings. It’s no doubt the new restrictions are going to have a devastating impact on many.
Here’s what some of the key figures from the industry had to say over the weekend…
Charlie Gikes, co-founder of the Inception Group which boasts some of London’s best-loved nightspots, from Mr Fogg’s to Bunga Bunga, Cahoot’s to Maggies’, tweeted the below.
Earlier this morning Gikes, who has been passionately vocal about the effects the pandemic has had on his industry, added that it was “devastating hearing from a number of independent bars, pubs and restaurants for whom a second lockdown means the end of the road.”
Robin Hutson, CEO of The Pig hotels and Limewood has urged the public to change the dates of any upcoming reservations they have during the new imposed lockdown rather than cancelling them altogether and, if possible, leave their deposit upfront in the hope that it might keep some businesses afloat during further tough times.
Restauranteur Jonathan Dawney has firsthand felt the devastating impacts of this virus – his hugely popular food outlets, Milk & Honey, the Giant Robot and Dinerama have all closed over the year – and yesterday he tweeted the below.
Others have tried to remain positive – which seems near impossible this week – and drum up as much business as possible before doors close at 10pm on Wednesday. King’s Cross-based bar and restaurant, Rotunda, tweeted, “Eat Out with us before lockdown… we’re open every day until lockdown for lunch, dinner or drinks!” Adding, “We’ll be offering bottomless bubbles every day, enjoy with up to 5 friends on our covered, terrace.”
While steak institution Hawksmoor simply tweeted the hashtag #EatOutBeforeYouCantEatOut with some pictures of their classic dishes in the hope to gain as many punters in the next three days.
Many have again this weekend been sharing the petition to create a Minister for Hospitality in the UK Government. Unlike the Arts or Sports sectors, hospitality, which is responsible for around 3million jobs, generating £130billion in activity, resulting in £38billion in taxation, do not have a dedicated minister. The petition has already gained nearly 37,000 signatures. You can support and sign it here.
What happens over the next month for our beloved bars, pubs and restaurants is not entirely known but we can guarantee it’s going to be tough and perhaps the end of the road for the hardest year in hospitality in history.
If you can, we urge you to support your local businesses this week until the doors close at 10pm on Wednesday. Sign the petition, book in for a final farewell meal, order their online delivery options, tip a little more generously and give the staff a round of applause come closing time – they definitely deserve it.