Delaying end of Covid restrictions would have ‘devastating’ impact on hotel businesses Business News

Maintaining Covid restrictions beyond June 21 would have a “devastating” impact on UK hotel companies already struggling for survival, industry leaders have warned.

Businesses have demanded government certainty amid growing fears that an increase in coronavirus infections could mean restrictions will not end this month as planned.

A quarter of hotel businesses remain closed and many of those that are open are operating at a loss, according to the UKHospitality trade organization. They are banking on a booming summer season to repair the damage caused by one of the toughest years in the industry.

“A delay would bring many businesses closer to the edge of the cliff of failure, leading to more job losses,” said Kate Nicholls, managing director of UKHospitality.

The government has refused to confirm whether or not the date is in jeopardy as scientists warn of the danger posed by a new surge in coronavirus cases.

Wedding venues, event planners and nightclubs are among those who say they need firm advice from ministers on what measures will be in place and what help will be available if restrictions on mixing households must continue.

Currently, businesses are hiring new staff, buying inventory, and planning a busy summer without knowing if they can operate at full capacity or not at all. Boris Johnson is due to take stock on June 14, leaving companies only a week to prepare.

Emily Lewis, of the Lewis Partnership, which runs pubs and a wedding venue at a 41-room hotel, said she had already hired 10 new staff in training.

“The training takes weeks; it’s not about finding a job. We’ve started the ball rolling, but if that doesn’t happen on June 21, we [position where we have more than we need. They won’t be eligible for furlough.

Weddings are limited to 30 people but under current plans, there will be no restriction on numbers after 21 June. Many venues have already taken on substantial debt to make it this far and will make further losses if they operate for the summer season with limited numbers

Uncertainty is also deepening a recruitment crisis for pubs, restaurants and events companies who have seen an exodus of migrant labour.

Ms Lewis added: “We see a lot of CVs on jobs boards where people say they don’t want to work in hospitality any more because they’ve been burned by the experience of the pandemic.

“Our industry will be the first that is closed down and people taking new jobs won’t be eligible for furlough.

“It’s very difficult to staff a very busy wedding season when people don’t have the certainty that you are going to be open.”

If restrictions do continue, the Lewis Partnership plans to keep on its new staff but may be forced to furlough existing team members.

Ambiguous statements from the government have also caused further worry for couples planning their weddings, some of whom have now moved the date for their big day four or five times, Ms Lewis said.

“They just want to get married; they want to know what the day is going to look like. We are being that reassuring voice but at the moment we have no information to give them.”

Nightclubs, which have been unable to open their doors at all since March last year, face particularly tough circumstances.

A recent poll by the Night-Time Industries Association found that nine in 10 businesses in the sector believe their survival would be under threat if they must remain closed beyond 21 June.

Michael Kill, chief executive of the NTIA, said: “According to our survey 95 per cent of [night-life] Companies have already had to start hiring staff, ordering inventory, booking entertainment and selling tickets, all at a considerable cost, any deviation or delay will put additional financial pressure on them. “

Nightlife operators are calling for a minimum period of three weeks to prepare for rule changes.

Britain’s largest business group, the CBI, has urged the government to issue clear guidelines on certification of Covid status and social distancing when the economy fully reopens.

“Companies are holding their fingers that health data allows for a full reopening on June 21,” a CBI spokesperson said.

“The easing of restrictions has revived economic momentum in many sectors, but others, such as hospitality, recreation and tourism, aspire to make the most of the summer season.

The hesitations of Boris Johnson’s government have sparked public confidence in the drop in restrictions, according to an Ipsos Mori poll released on Tuesday.

He revealed that 58 percent of people believe the government will maintain the goal of removing most if not all Covid restrictions by June, down 25 percent from just a few weeks ago.

The concern comes as a new variant of Covid first identified in India spreads to the UK. Scientists have advised caution on the roadmap to ensure that progress in removing the virus is not reversed.

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This notice was published: 2021-06-01 18:59:48

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