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The Hospitality Sector's Lockdown Legacy

25 March 2021

One year on from the first lockdown, the hospitality industry has undoubtedly been one of the hardest hit, with more than 600,000 jobs lost.

UKHospitality, the body representing the hospitality sector, is calling for the government to be guided by “data not dates” and ease restrictions.

The industry has experienced more than eight months of closure, costing more than 600,000 jobs, 12,000 business failures and lost sales of £86 billion.

With only a minority of pubs, bars, restaurants, hotels and leisure facilities being able to trade outdoors from 12 April, the trade association is warning that closure for the vast majority of operators is due to last another nine weeks until 17 May, when indoor hospitality is permitted to reopen.

UKHospitality says that this delay means even more jobs are in danger and even more businesses are facing ruin. it is predicted that, until restrictions are lifted, pubs, bars, restaurants, hotels and leisure facilities will not be able to break even and, with the expectation that consumer confidence will take time to recover, trading is unlikely to return to anything like normal levels for at least six months.


"While any restrictions remain in place, our pubs and restaurants can only break even and the viability of thousands remains at risk – we lost over 12,000 in the last year alone."

–Kate Nicholls

Chief Executive, UKHospitality


Full Removal of Restrictions from 21 June


UKHospitality says that it’s critical that the government sticks to its plans for the full removal of restrictions no later than 21 June. However, with the continued success of the vaccination programme and hospitalisations and fatalities continuing to decline, the industry is urging the government to follow the “data not dates” and loosen the restrictions that are in place at different stages of the roadmap.

UKHospitality is therefore urging the government to allow:

  • Hotels with self-contained rooms to be able to open alongside other self-contained accommodation on 12 April.
  • Earlier re-opening of children’s indoor play areas (currently set for 17 May).
  • People to be able to order via a hatch or outdoor till on outdoor re-opening in April.
  • People to be able to order at the bar from indoor opening in May, and for customers to be allowed to consume drinks while standing outdoors.
  • COVID- secure weddings and receptions indoors from April, with an increase in guest numbers from May 17 in line with sporting and other events.

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “The last 12 months have been truly awful for our sector. That is why any controls that limit commercial activity upon reopening should be necessary and proportionate and we back the recent call from the Public Accounts Committee for the government to provide the evidence for such limits. While any restrictions remain in place, our pubs and restaurants can only break even and the viability of thousands remains at risk – we lost over 12,000 in the last year alone.

“Hospitality can lead economic recovery in the UK, providing jobs to people who have lost them and continuing to serve those most in need in communities all over the country. To do this however, we need to be able to operate without being strangled by restrictions.

“We also urge the government to look again at some areas of support it introduced in the Budget, in particular the business rates cap, which unfairly penalises a large proportion of hospitality businesses who will find themselves paying full rates just days after restrictions are fully lifted in June. That cannot be right, and we urge ministers to think again.”


Venues Testing COVID Air Management Systems


One innovation that is predicted to help get the hospitality trade back on its feet involves ventilation – a key component in preventing COVID-19 transmission. Systems using UVC technology are being piloted in a range of locations, to help in providing cleaner air.

UVC can significantly reduce bacteria, viruses and other pathogens from air, surfaces and water and is recognised as an option for surface disinfection by the Health and Safety Executive.

Such systems have been installed in places like Kuala Lumpur Airport and several NBA team facilities and trialled at the 100 Club in Central London.

Picture: a photograph of a person pouring from a cocktail shaker into a glass

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 25 March 2021


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