UK Hospitality has called on the Government to “invest in a fair and timely return for hospitality this summer, for the benefit of local communities, peoples’ jobs, national wellbeing and the British economy.”
That is the central message of a new campaign launched on May 20 by trade designed to highlight that businesses are “ready to reopen in a safe and sustainable way” so long as Boris Johnson and co. support the sector and set out a clear directive.
UK Hospitality again highlighted the fact the industry employs more than three million people and generates £39bn of tax for the Exchequer.
The Prime Minister has begun setting out a road map for how restaurants, pubs and bars will reopen, but has yet to clarify exactly when, and how social distancing will work in all environments.
In response, the organisation said four key points will help hospitality businesses to emerge from the lockdown with confidence:
- Wellbeing: Endorse the sector’s best-practice protocols and risk assessments for a COVID Secure restart
- Workers: Ensure the furlough scheme is retained at full rate for hospitality until businesses successfully restart
- Communities: Regulate to provide a ‘National Time Out’ on rent payments for the remainder of the year and a solution to address debt and costs for business
- Consumers: Cut the rate of VAT for hospitality businesses to help boost confidence and incentivise visits to tourist destinations.
As a first step, UKHospitality has submitted its best practice health and safety protocols to ministers for endorsement, which emphasise that the sector needs flexibility to operate safely and should not be constricted by a one-size-fits-all approach given the diversity of businesses covered.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the sector, with a 21 per cent decline in hospitality trade in the first three months of 2020 as the industry moved into lockdown – 10 times worse than the whole economy.
In the second quarter there has been a near wipe-out of trade – around a third of businesses believe they will never reopen some sites. Even while closed, the sector faces further costs – with no revenue and bills of up to £1 billion in rent and other overheads in the second quarter of the year.
Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality chief executive, said: “Hospitality needs the UK and devolved governments to help us deliver for our customers, our employees, local communities and the wellbeing of the nation.
“We will be ready to restart (in England on 4th July and other parts of the country when allowed), but for the entire country to come together again after lockdown, governments must invest in a fair and timely return for hospitality and all those who rely on it.
“The sector provides jobs and livelihoods in every city, town and village. But we are more than that, our venues are where communities come together – our doors reopening will be a true measure of national recovery.
2It is vital that reopening is done in the right way, at the right time and with the right support so that our industry can help rebuild shattered consumer confidence and bring the nation back together safely over the coming months.
“The summer is a crucial time for the sector. The Great British public deserve safe accommodation, eating and drinking out experiences, holidays and leisure time; the financial cost is a justified investment in our nation’s wellbeing and the future of the economy.”