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UKHospitality Response to Social Distancing and Business Support Announcements

UKHospitality has responded to announcements by the Prime Minister and Chief Secretary to the Treasury, regarding new social distancing requirements and enforcement, and business support respectively.

On the Prime Minister’s statement, UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said:

“The Prime Minister’s statement represents a further shift towards hospitality businesses to act to protect public health. This is a challenge that the sector has already grasped and will redouble efforts to achieve, in the interest of customers and staff, and to minimise the risk of further lockdowns.

“This will, of course, be more easily achieved with the cooperation of customers, so the measures to make clear the responsibility of individuals was equally welcome. Any fines charged against hospitality venues for breaching Covid-secure requirements must be proportionate and pertain to factors wholly under the control of the venue.

“Mr Johnson said that a later announcement will be made regarding a review of other types of gatherings, such as business conferences, and we strongly urge that any such announcement also includes the roadmap for a return to trade for nightclubs, for which we have long been asking.”

With regard to the Chief Secretary’s statement in the House of Commons, announcing grants for forcibly closed venues and criteria for furlough extension considerations, Ms Nicholls commented:

"It is reassuring that the government has recognised the damage closures will cause businesses. The grants would cover some costs, but more detail is needed to properly assess the benefit. For example, in Bolton at present, venues can open as takeaways, so presumably are not being forcibly closed, making them ineligible for the grants. This cannot be right.

"On furlough, the Chief Secretary said three questions remain unanswered in terms of targeted support. Since the pandemic broke, it has become inarguably clear that hospitality is justifiably front of the queue for inclusion, and our supply chain benefits from our recovery. We realise, of course, that any employment support cannot be open-ended but, based on the rate of recovery of the sector thus far, we would propose a potential winding down at the end of Q1 2021, as the sector looks forward to the summer season."

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