Review COVID-19 tiers every week, ailing hospitality sector urges PM

Boris Johnson must commit to weekly reviews of the coronavirus tiers dictating the ability of pubs, restaurants and nightclubs to trade during the remaining months of the coronavirus pandemic, scores of hospitality chefs will warn on Thursday.

Sky News has seen an open letter to the prime minister from dozens of bosses – including executives at Fuller’s, Mitchells & Butlers and The Restaurant Group, which owns Wagamama – imploring him to act immediately or risk the collapse of the entire sector.

Industry sources said that more than 100 companies had signed the letter, which was circulated around hospitality employers within hours of the government’s announcement about arrangements for the end of the England-wide lockdown period next week.

In it, they said the latest COVID-19 battleplan had “left hospitality businesses out in the cold”.

“The public are free to visit shopping centres, theatres, sports fixtures and live music and entertainment with friends and family but not to drop into our safe, supervised, welcoming hospitality, leisure or tourist attraction.

“They are free to mix with up to 3 households indoors between 23 and 27 December but cannot do so in a hotel or restaurant, which even Sage scientists acknowledge to be safer.

“The restrictions are arbitrary and punitive and without support will cost livelihoods and jobs.”

The executives called on Mr Johnson to ensure that weekly reviews of the regional tiers took place, rather than the proposed fortnightly intervals, and urged him to ensure that reduced VAT and business rates support were extended.

“Extending the reduced rate of VAT will give this country a much-needed boost and support longer term recovery if you can signal this side of the new year that the government will provide the sorely need rent support to struggling hospitality businesses, the business rate waiver and VAT cut will be extended across next year,” the letter added.

More than 1,000 jobs at M&B, the owner of All Bar One, have been axed, while nightclub operators such as Deltic are teetering on the brink of collapse and restaurant operators including Leon are turning to insolvency mechanisms in a bid to survive.

(c) Sky News 2020: Review COVID-19 tiers every week, ailing hospitality sector urges PM


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