Writing in an email to guests, he says that under the restrictions business meetings are permissible in restaurants and bars, quoting a Number 10 spokesman who said that while current guidance advises people to limit their social contact “people are permitted to meet indoors for work purposes in high or very high areas”.
“We have been inundated with requests for information on this, and I know many of you have cancelled such meetings, so I was keen to set the record straight,” he says in his email.
“Whether the Government does a U-turn on this as well remains to be seen but frankly I have had enough of prevarication, indecision and contradictions and am pressing ahead on this basis irrespectively.
“There you have it. We will still need to limit the table sizes to six but otherwise we propose to proceed as above.”
King's comments comes with the news of an apparent loophole in the Government's Coronavirus alert level restrictions that suggests working lunches could still be allowed despite bans on people from different households mixing. In areas that are subject to Tier 2 or Tier 3 restrictions including London, where the majority of Corbin & Kings restaurants are located, households are banned from meeting in pubs, restaurants and bars. However, reports suggest that such restrictions do not apply providing the meeting in question was for 'work purposes'.
In the same email King has described the Job Support Scheme (JSS) as “unworkable and too expensive” and has revealed that his group’s West End restaurants saw a 50% drop in trade on the previous week because of the new restrictions being placed on the capital.
He also says that the hospitality industry is confronting a drop of 75% in turnover and 750,000 job losses because there is no support from the Government, and declared: “It is time for us to get more demanding.”
Since 4 July, when lockdown in England was lifted, King says the group’s 550 staff have served over 250,000 guests at The Wolseley, Brasserie Zédel, Colbert, Fischer’s and Soutine without a single notification of infection among staff or customers.
Reopening The Delaunay
The group reopened its brasserie The Delaunay today (20 October) despite offices being empty and theatres and cultural institutions remaining closed and “a dearth of visitors to Covent Garden”.
The reopening was predicated by the knowledge that if the restaurant didn’t reopen soon the company would have to make over 100 staff redundant.
“Our decision appeared really sound as the bookings came in droves and we were gratified by the support,” says King.
“When subsequently Tier Two was announced it was assumed that we would change our mind but, on the contrary, we were determined to save our staff and somehow ride this out.”
“The problem with Tier Two is that it is the worst of both worlds as we are left in ‘no man’s land’ with our clientele discouraged to come but no compensatory help from the Government.”