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Government’s new tighter tier system a ‘straitjacket’ on hospitality, says UKHospitality

24th Nov 2020 - 06:00
The Government’s new, tighter tier system is at best a restrictive straitjacket and at worst a lockdown in all but name for hospitality businesses, according to UKHospitality.

The trade body has warned that the measures, which will see businesses in tier 3 permitted to provide takeaway only and those in tier 2 restricted to substantial meals, will lead to permanent closures and job losses.

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “The Government is making a point of saying that these measures are needed in order to save Christmas. In reality, they are killing Christmas and beyond for many businesses and their customers who look forward to, and rely on, venues being open at this time of year. Sadly, for many staff, it will be a Christmas out of work.

“If there needs to be a tightening of restrictions, it should not come at the expense of hospitality. Only a small fraction of cases have been linked to our businesses and venues have shown that they can provide safe environments for customers and staff. If the Government pursues this course of action, it is going to mean permanent closures and job losses.

“Tier 3 will be lockdown in everything but name for hospitality and will leave businesses almost no room for manoeuvre. With household mixing still not permitted, businesses in tier 2 are going to find revenues severely slashed at a crucial time for the sector.

“Immediate financial support must now be rapidly increased as many businesses will be forced to close, in some cases permanently. Our member survey has shown the current Tier 3 restrictions, which will now effectively apply to Tier 2 areas, will see 94% of hospitality businesses operate at a loss or simply become unviable.

“The new Tier 3 simply means no chance of trading out of this. Government must also confirm that the increased State Aid cap of €3m will be applied – as this is preventing the distribution of grants to tens of thousands of businesses employing nearly a million people.

“Adding a degree of flexibility to the mandatory curfew will help with dispersal of customers, but it doesn’t change the fact that businesses won’t be able generate revenues after 10pm.

“The big stumbling block for businesses is the lack of household mixing. This will be a huge hit that will be felt all the harder because it is almost Christmas. The Government could throw the sector a lifeline if it adopted the Welsh model of limited household mixing to let people socialise safely without jeopardising public or business health.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the three-tiered regional measures will return from December 2nd. Regions will not find out which tier they are in until tomorrow (Thursday, November 26th).

The allocation of tiers will be dependent on a number of factors, including each area's case numbers, the reproduction rate - or R number - and the current and projected pressure on the NHS locally.

Tier allocations will be reviewed every 14 days, and the regional approach will last until March.

Responding to latest announcement on lockdown restrictions, Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food & Drink Federation, said: “The food and drink industry’s half a million employees will welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement on weekly testing.

“This is an important step to secure continuity of production in this essential industry during these tricky winter months. We still harbour deep concern at the potentially desperate future for hospitality.

“There is real danger that continued restrictions will result in two thirds of pubs, clubs and restaurants – customers to food manufacturers - closing before the vaccine arrives. We must see further financial support for this vital sector.”


Written by
David Foad