In a letter sent to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove MP, trade body UKHospitality has outlined a six-point plan to help the country’s hospitality businesses reopen following the Coronavirus crisis.
Without more support, it says a million jobs in the sector could be lost.
However, London Union’s Jonathan Downey, who is currently leading a #NationalTimeOut campaign calling for a nine-month rent-free period to help the sector survive, says he believes the number of people in hospitality who could lose their jobs because of Coronavirus will be closer to two million.
Speaking yesterday (22 April), Professor Chris Whitty, the Government’s chief medical adviser, made clear that social distancing measures would be needed until at least the end of the year to prevent fresh Coronavirus outbreaks.
UKHospitality says its six-point plan sets out the level of support that the sector needs to reintegrate into the economy; to avoid in excess of one million redundancies; and to ensure much-loved local businesses and high-street brands can survive the crisis.
The measures recommended include extending the furlough scheme beyond the end of June for hospitality; a comprehensive fiscal package to stimulate demand post-crisis; an overhaul of business regulation; and guaranteeing the sector a functioning and responsive insurance market.
“With social distancing measures still in place, reopening the hospitality sector without a plan would be catastrophic,” says UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls.
“The hospitality sector was one of the first hit by the crisis and the hardest hit in terms of lost revenue. It will also be one of the last to fully emerge from the lockdown.
“We need a plan of phased opening for our sector. For those businesses that can trade safely with social distancing measures still in place, they should be able to. For the many venues where it is not possible, support, such as the furlough scheme, must be extended to make sure these businesses stay alive and jobs kept open.
“We can’t have a situation where, overnight, the entire sector is suddenly expected to hit the ground running. If the correct support is not in made available to help businesses get back to work when the time is right, then businesses will have survived the immediate crisis only to find themselves out of business during the aftermath.”
Similarly to Downey, UKHospitality is also calling for legislative intervention on rent payments.
Downey’s #NationalTimeOut campaign has so far received backing from a number of leading UK restaurant and bar groups including Burger King, Pret, Prezzo, Wahaca, D&D London, Hawksmoor, JKS Restaurants, Harts Group, Gordon Ramsay Group, Dishoom, Subway and Living Ventures.
However, he has stressed that so far UKHospitality has failed to endorse his proposal.