A Stop-Start reopening would be too costly and painful

There is speculative talk operators be given a “halfway house” reopening over Easter. That is restrictions will still be in place, in part, and the hospitality industry will not be allowed to fully get going until May or beyond.

The industry has understandably mixed feelings at the prospect of a slow and gradual reemergence. Many believe it should be open or not. Either the vaccine is enough or it isn’t. After all, we’ve been yo-yoing up to now and look where it’s left us.

What’s more, it would appear it will be local councils at liberty to shut down venues rather than a central policy. So again, a lack of transparency, and a distinct lack of continuity across the board looms.

Of course we should look forward to a reopening of any description and even if the ‘rule of six’ applies from the get-go or households or whatever other safety measures are dreamt up, the chance to sit down to eat and drink above all else is what everyone is dreaming of – and needs.

So the best the industry can do for now is again urge the Government to offer clearer guidance.

Simon Thompson, owner of Present Company bar in Liverpool, told The Telegraph: “I feel the same way most hospitality venue owners feel now – we just want some clarity as to when we’ll be able to trade again. At least then there’s a way to plan for the future rather than this open-ended purgatory.”

Anna Sebastian, head bartender at the Artesian bar in London’s Langham hotel, added: “We want to be able to operate safely so we are happy to do whatever it takes. Saying that, we need a clear strategy, advance warning, all types of support from the government so we can prepare and align our businesses instead of facing more closures and redundancies as an industry.”

And Louis Lewis-Smith, director of the Crying Wolf bar in Bristol and the Dark Horse bar in Bath, said: “When the rent moratorium ends, there will be landlords demanding huge sums for a year when we’ve had throttled income or been closed completely.

“I cannot wait to get my bars open again but this is not the golden ticket that’s going to save the sector.”

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