Hospitality trade fears going under if UK imposes new Covid ‘plan B’ | Hospitality industry



Pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels would be driven under if the government imposes “plan B” restrictions to curb the rise in Covid-19 cases, the head of the hospitality trade body has warned, amid concern that the industry cannot survive a second lost Christmas.The health secretary, Sajid Javid, said on Wednesday that while new infections could hit a record 100,000 a day, he would not be reintroducing measures such as working from home or compulsory mask-wearing “at this time”.But the British Medical Association said on Thursday it would be “wilful negligence” not to enact plan B in England, to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed by growing numbers of coronavirus cases.Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UK Hospitality, which represents 730 companies operating 85,000 venues, warned businesses would be driven under by a tightening of restrictions over the key Christmas period.“For the hospitality sector as a whole, the period between Halloween and New Year’s Eve is when you would earn 40% of your profits,” she said.“We lost Christmas in its entirely last year, so it’s desperately important for survivability, getting you through the bleak months of January and February when people don’t come out as much.“A lot of businesses are still fragile. Any knock at this point in time could have an impact on viability. People will just go to the wall. This idea you could shut down or have a restriction for a small period to save Christmas needs knocking on the head. There’s a danger you don’t save Christmas, you cancel it.”Nicholls said it was too late to impose tough restrictions in the hope of opening up later because it would destroy consumer confidence to make reservations for a period when pubs, restaurants and hotels typically field a flood of early bookings.Sign up to the daily Business Today email or follow Guardian Business on Twitter at @BusinessDesk She said customers were cautious about booking ahead for the festive period, as the number of Covid-19 cases rises, with the UK this week recording the highest number of deaths since March.Advance bookings for the festive period would usually be 90% complete by the August bank holidays, said Nicholls, but were running at much lower levels this year.She said small groups of family and friends were waiting until the last minute to book and that corporate groups and office parties were in better shape but would be wiped out by a work-from-home order.



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