With social distancing potentially extending into 2021 and hospitality businesses predicted to be last in line to open, UKHospitality has warned that jobs will be lost without more protective measures from the government. The road to re-opening, let alone recovery, is going to be a bumpy one.
Hospitality could see one million jobs lost as the sector sits last in line to reopen following an extended period of social distancing which Chief Medical Officer Chris Witty has said could last beyond 2020.
UKHospitality has warned that unless more measures to protect businesses are put into place, such social distancing measures would spell disaster for the sector and the many people it employs. On the same day as Witty’s comments, UKH wrote to minister for the cabinet office Michael Gove with a six-point plan to help the industry reopen following the crisis.
But it’s an inadequate policy on social distancing that Kate Nicholls fears.
“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 be government support for businesses that continue to be hit by this crisis.”
She added: “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 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.”
“Upon reopening, trade could be down by as much as half what it was before,” she said. “It will, inevitably, take time for consumer confidence to build. Social distancing restrictions in pubs will inevitably have a direct effect on footfall in pubs.”