Friday Five: the week's top news

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Friday Five: the week's top news

Related tags: Hospitality

This week's main hospitality news stories include a U-turn on 'vaccine passports' in England, Jamie Oliver eyeing a return to restaurants, and Noma finally being awarded three Michelin stars.

- The Government no longer plans to go ahead with introducing so-called 'vaccine passports' for crowded venues in England​ later this month. Instead the measure will be held 'in reserve' as part of the Government's contingency plan to deal with the pandemic during autumn and winter​. It is hoped that the Government's booster programme - targeted at people aged 50 and over, those in care homes, frontline health and social care workers and any vulnerable people over 16 - will be enough to keep the NHS from coming under 'unsustainable pressure' from Covid-19 again, but should that not be the case a series of mitigations including Covid vaccine certificates, face coverings and working from home orders could come into effect. Lockdowns will also be considered, but only 'as a last resort'. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has warned that businesses across the sector are still in a fragile state with significant debts, and any setbacks over the coming months will result in more closures.

- Jamie Oliver has revealed he is considering a return to restaurants​. Speaking to the Radio Times​, Oliver said he was biding his time, but definitely planned to make further forays into the restaurant business in the future. “I’m watching for now, but I’ll definitely get back in the game,” he said. Jamie Oliver’s UK restaurant group fell into administration back in 2019, which led to the collapse of the chef’s nationwide Jamie’s Italian chain, as well as his Barbecoa and Fifteen restaurants in London. His other Fifteen restaurant in Cornwall subsequently closed later that year, bringing to an end Oliver's restaurant presence on the high street.

- René Redzepi’s famed Copenhagen restaurant Noma has been awarded three Michelin stars in the 2021 guide to the Nordic countries​. The restaurant, which topped the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list four times from 2010-14, was promoted from two stars to three in a move by Michelin that many thought was long overdue. Describing the accolade, the restaurant said on Twitter: “The seemingly impossible has happened.”

- Job vacancies rose to their highest levels since records began​ in the three months to August, according to official figures, propelled by ongoing recruitment issues in the hospitality sector. Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that vacancies grew by 269,300 (35.2%) between June and August, with all industry sectors increasing their number of vacancies. The largest increase was seen in accommodation and food services, which rose by 57,600 (75.4%). The ONS notes that 'labour demand has increased rapidly while staff availability has fallen because of a mix of employees leaving these sectors to find employment elsewhere and a reluctance of workers to return to their previous roles'. Reinforcing the growth in vacancies, alongside the current difficulty in filling positions in the accommodation and food service industry, it is the sector with the highest ratio of vacancies to 100 employee jobs at 5.9. Later in the week the ONS also revealed that hospitality businesses are more than twice as likely as other industries to be experiencing challenges in filling job vacancies​.

​Al fresco dining will continue in parts of Covent Garden and St. John’s Wood, with Westminster City Council also exploring the possibility of introducing a longer term scheme in Soho​. The Council said the decision to extend the scheme permanently in parts of the borough follows 'hugely positive' responses to consultations from local residents, with more than 80% of respondents in Covent Garden and St. John’s Wood approving the continuation of measures. It means that in St. John’s Wood High Street the current one-way system and pavement widening will remain in place. In Covent Garden, meanwhile, al fresco dining to continue on Henrietta Street, King Street, Maiden Lane and parts of Southampton Street.

Check below for more of this week's headlines, or click here​.

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