Business leaders in England have asked for more financial aid after Boris Johnson pushed back the date of so-called Freedom Day, when all Covid restrictions will end.

Hospitality industry figures have warned that the delay from June 21 to July 19 would be “devastating” for a sector which has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic and which is being forced to operate below capacity during the period. one of the busiest times of the year.

The Prime Minister said on Monday that the increase in the number of cases and the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus meant it “made sense to wait a little longer” and that the final stage of the lockdown would be delayed by four weeks .

The delay means pubs, bars and restaurants must continue to operate with social distancing measures in place that reduce capacity. The discos will remain closed. Weddings and parties can take place with more than 30 guests from June 21, when the limit on the number of participants will be lifted.

Mr Johnson said the government aims to ensure that all adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine and that all people over 50 have been fully immunized by July 19.

Dr Roger Barker, director of policy at the Institute of Directors, called the announcement a “blow” to business.

“We are now approaching a cliff, with government support for the end or the start of the downturn,” he said.

“It is essential that this support is deployed in proportion to the extension of the lockdown. Economic support and public health measures must be aligned. “

Businesses face a number of significant costs that will fall due in the next three weeks, after being postponed or canceled during the pandemic.

On June 23, businesses will be hit with quarterly bills and the ban on commercial rent evictions ends the following week.

On July 1, employers must start contributing towards the cost of wages for employees on leave. On the same day, the 100 percent business rate relief drops to 67 percent.

Philip Inzani, founder of Polo 24 Hour Bar, a central London venue, said it had become “almost impossible” to plan staff levels.

“People are not waiting, Brexit has also had a massive impact in terms of recruitment, there is a huge skills gap in the sector, especially in the back kitchen,” he said.

Thousands of small businesses that relied on easing restrictions will be affected by the delay, said Gary Turner, UK co-founder and managing director of the Xero accounting platform.

“The initial road out of the lockdown schedule instilled confidence in the small business market, and our customer data showed green shoots of recovery as sales rose 0.6% year-on-year in April with a average monthly growth of 2020 and 2021.

“However, our data suggests that 410,000 small business jobs need to be created this year for the sector to return to the pre-pandemic employment trajectory – and this expansion continues to put pressure on companies that operate with a reduced staff. “

A survey by small business finance platform Iwoca found that one in three SMEs report sacrificing customer numbers in order to maintain workplaces safe from Covid – a quarter have few sales.

Neil Pattison, director of Caterer.com, the online recruiting platform, was scathing about the timing of Boris Johnson’s announcement.

“Once again, this last-minute government announcement will put the hospitality industry and its people in an additional challenge,” he said.

“Businesses have gone to great lengths to prepare for a full reopening on June 21, and this latest delay in easing restrictions will have debilitating consequences for events and the nightlife economy, as well as pubs, bars , hotels and restaurants which are still not able to operate at full capacity. ”

Sam Morgan, managing director of Craft restaurant in Birmingham, estimated his business would lose £ 42,000 in revenue due to the delay.

“[That] means less withdrawal of staff on leave, which was not expected, and a delay in repaying Covid support loans.

“There must be financial support in the form of business rates, further reduction, additional subsidies and the exclusion of employers’ national insurance contributions for workers on leave.”

The events sector will be particularly affected by the extension of the restrictions. Darren Stanley, head of event planning and production company OnFyre.co.uk, said the pandemic has completely closed its doors.

“I spent £ 40,000 on my business just before the pandemic hit – on website, marketing, gear and sponsorship – it was completely wasted as no one could make reservations,” said Mr. Stanley.

“I put in an extra £ 20,000 when we were told we could reopen at the end of 2020… but then came another foreclosure. I’ve now canceled around 750 events – from store openings to weddings and launches of products, costing around £ 50,000 each – it’s all gone. “

Despite the difficulties faced by companies, a YouGov survey found that 71% of public support …

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Source: www.independent.co.uk
This notice was published: 2021-06-14 18:14:52

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