In Brief

Last orders: 72% of hospitality and pub businesses could close in 2021

Trade bodies call for more government support to save thousands of firms and hundreds of thousands of jobs

In a normal year companies in the hospitality industry would now be gearing up for the Christmas rush of parties, events and festive celebrations. 

But due to Covid-19 there’s not much to cheer about as pubs, restaurants and venues remain closed because of coronavirus restrictions.

The pandemic’s impact has been devastating for hospitality and in October 900,000 workers from the sector were on full-time furlough and a further 400,000 were on part-time furlough, Personnel Today reported.

Unable to reopen, the hospitality industry is facing a bleak future. According to a new poll, seven out of ten UK pubs and restaurants expect to operate at a loss and to be unable to survive because of the collapse in trade, The Guardian says. 

In the survey, which was based on a poll of 446 UK businesses representing more than 20,000 venues, the British Beer and Pub Association, the British Institute of Innkeeping and UKHospitality trade bodies found that 72% of firms “expect to become unviable and close in 2021”.

The trade bodies say the survey found that the tiering system used across England was “particularly damaging” and have called on the government to do more to support thousands of hospitality and pub businesses.

A joint spokesperson for the three organisations said: “The evidence is here to see of the devastating, long-term impact the government’s restrictions are having on hospitality and pub businesses. 

“Without a change in approach and more support from government, much of our sector could be gone within a year – that means businesses and jobs lost plus much-loved venues closed forever. 

“We recognise that local restrictions will need to be based on local risk levels, but to ensure our sector can bring people together properly this Christmas and beyond, and crucially provide them a safe environment to socialise in, we believe the tier system should be fine-tuned. That means relaxing the ban on more than one household in tier two and extending the 10pm hard curfew cut-off point. 

“Those pubs and hospitality venues facing tier three restrictions currently have an impossible task of trying to remain viable as businesses. In recognition of this, the government must enable wet-led pubs to re-open in tier three where they do not serve food, as well as significantly enhance the grant support for those businesses not viable across all tiers, but especially those in tier three.

“This will ensure their very survival so they can re-open once more when we are through the worst of this crisis.”

The three trade bodies also warned that unless the government offered greater support, there would be 750,000 fewer jobs in the sector by February 2021 compared with earlier this year, The Guardian added. 

With lockdowns and restrictions hitting pre-Christmas trade, England’s bars and cafes have been left in “intensive care”, Yahoo Finance reports. 

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said 660,000 jobs have already been lost and companies fear missing out on trade during the year’s “golden quarter”. Between Halloween and New Year’s Eve up to 40% of annual revenues are earned.

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