Hospitality trade bodies have demanded the government produces a roadmap to better identify when and how the sector can reopen.
UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls said it is imperative the Chancellor Rishi Sunak set out formal plans for businesses to “get us over the final hurde” after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed a scourge of job losses across the industry.
Harden’s also believes the government must offer clarity and enhanced support to pubs and restaurants in order to ensure the industry can emerge from lockdown strongly and with the option to kick-start the economy and bring jobs.
After the recession in 2008 it was hospitality that provided quick and energised jobs in a shaky market and the same must happen this time as the coronavirus vaccine is rolled out.
Pressure from trade groups will only go so far – but every voice counts. The government will, we believe, respond.
Nicholls said: “This is a reminder, not that it is needed, we have been hit hardest by this. Unless we want to see unemployment in our sector rise even further, we need more support to keep businesses alive and these jobs secure.
“The VAT cut and business rates holiday must be extended to give employers some breathing room to keep jobs safe. It is vital we have a clear exit strategy and a route map to recovery as soon as possible. Hospitality can be the key to jobs and skills for young people and we can plug the gaps left by retail and help revitalise the economy.
“We can only do this with the right support to see us through the crisis, though.”
The British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin added: “Rising unemployment and redundancies hitting a record high are extremely concerning.
“As one of the most devastated sectors by covid-19, we fear it could get a lot worse unless action is taken. The chancellor must act to get us over this final hurdle in the fight against the virus.
“A clear roadmap to reopening is needed to save jobs, along with an economic stimulus package so sectors like ours can bounce back and lead the recovery.”
Night Time Industries Association chief executive Michael Kill said: “Unless we want to see these figures rise to catastrophic levels within our sector, the government must take action to keep businesses from going under, which will result in hundreds of thousands of jobs and livelihoods lost.”
The ONS said: “The outlook remains negative and further job cuts are expected in retail, hospitality and leisure, and construction once the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme unwinds.”