Coronavirus: Governments urged to invest in ‘fair and timely’ restart for hospitality this summer

UK Hospitality’s #FAIR4Hospitality campaign calls on ministers to support sector’s reopening

busy bar

GOVERNMENTS at Westminster and Holyrood must invest in a “fair and timely return for hospitality this summer” for the benefit of jobs, the economy, local communities and people’s wellbeing – that’s the central message of a new campaign launched today (March 20) by trade group UK Hospitality.

The #FAIR4Hospitality campaign is calling on the UK Government and devolved administrations to support the sector’s restart, outlining four key measures to help hospitality businesses restart.

The trade group has called for VAT for hospitality businesses to be cut; for the furlough scheme to be retained at full rate for the hospitality sector until businesses successfully restart; for governments to regulate for a ‘National Time Out’ on rent payments for the rest of the year and a solution to address debt and costs for businesses; and for governments to endorse the sector’s best-practice protocols for a ‘COVID secure’ restart – UK Hospitality has submitted its best practice protocols to ministers for endorsement, which it said “emphasise that the sector needs flexibility to operate safely and should not be constricted by a one-size-fits-all approach given the diversity of businesses”.

The campaign comes after prime minister Boris Johnson published a roadmap for easing restrictions, indicating that some hospitality venues in England may be able to open from July 4. Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon is due to publish a plan for easing restrictions north of the border tomorrow (Thursday May 21).

UK Hospitality said the Covid-19 pandemic has had a “devastating impact” on the hospitality industry, with a 21% decline in trade in the first three months of 2020 and a “near wipe-put of trade” in the second quarter.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the organisation, said “businesses are ready to reopen in a safe and sustainable way given the right government support”.

“Hospitality needs the UK and devolved governments to help us deliver for our customers, our employees, local communities and the wellbeing of the nation,” she said.

“We will be ready to restart (in England on July 4 and other parts of the country when allowed), but for the entire country to come together again after lockdown, governments must invest in a fair and timely return for hospitality and all those who rely on it.

“The sector provides jobs and livelihoods in every city, town and village. But we are more than that; our venues are where communities come together – our doors reopening will be a true measure of national recovery.

“It is vital that reopening is done in the right way, at the right time and with the right support so that our industry can help rebuild shattered consumer confidence and bring the nation back together safely over the coming months.

“The summer is a crucial time for the sector. The British public deserve safe accommodation, eating and drinking out experiences, holidays and leisure time; the financial cost is a justified investment in our nation’s wellbeing and the future of the economy.”