Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the UK live on television earlier this afternoon setting out the new guidelines for reducing the spread of Covid-19 in England. Aided by chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance.
After the PM’s introduction he handed over to Professor Chris Whitty who used an animated map with hexagonal location marks to illustrate the distribution of people testing positive for Covid-19 in England. The animation changed with timelines and showed a decrease following lockdown. He then emphasised that of late numbers were starting to “creep up again”. Adding: “now we can see this spreading across the whole country. This is not just in a very small number of places, this is across the country. And that is the reason why we need to go on to act.” The government did not adjust its estimate for R today, but are working on an ‘assumption’ that it has risen above 1.
Prime Minister Johnson then returned saying government are “simplifying and strengthening the rules” to make them easier to understand and for police to respond to those not following them. The simplification was also shown below his and colleagues lecterns with a new slogan – Hands – Face – Space.
The Rule of Six
Johnson repeated a new strapline “the rule of six” countless times throughout the briefing. He also underlined the role of police and the fact that penalties would be levied on those not following the new rules.
Hospitality to be Policed
Hospitality venues were singled out by the Prime Minister as one area that would be monitored closely and penalties applied where necessary.
Staying with hospitality it was a bad day for Live Events and conferences with the Prime Minister saying the brakes were being put on events. He said that for events involving larger groups it could be next spring before they are allowed to resume. He didn’t say that decisions hade been made yet and were under review.
YouGov to the Rescue
Just after the briefing the government received a tweet that will have been very well received as a YouGov poll suggests there is already strong public support for the government’s latest rules and guidelines.
The first tweet was followed with further results of the poll.
It shows 62% of Britons – and all ages ranges – say they would support the introduction of a curfew between 10pm and 5am as a measure to prevent a second coronavirus wave
The impact on hospitality will once again be significant, after spending July and August trying to adjust to reopening, the new guidelines will see hospitality businesses adapting further.
Hospitality People’s Views
We spoke with a number of hospitality people to gauge their responses to the changes.
Danny Pecorelli FIH MI, managing director at Exclusive Hotels and Venues, and chairman of the Master Innholders underlined a need for clarity telling us: “We just want clarity and we will work with the clarity we are given.
“There also needs to be enforcement of those establishments not following the rules.
“We have seen a continuation of a strong summer because people feel safe but also still have an experience to enjoy.”
Brenda Collin, Managing Director, UK, Ireland, Nordics, The Netherlands at Preferred Hotels & Resorts wanted to see more support for the hospitality industry saying: “There has been confusion from the government in that on the one hand, they want everyone back to school and offices, and on the other, reintroducing restrictions in order to protect the vulnerable.
“My concern is that government support for our sector is being wound up, so any lockdowns will create even more job losses for the industry. If the government need to reintroduce measures, they also need to provider longer term support for businesses, particularly in London which has been badly impacted.”
Earlier today we spoke at some length to Chris Stern, Managing Director, Stern Consultancy. We published Chris’ views in full detail earlier. He reflected on his own first hand experiences in preparing workplaces in London for the return of foodservices. Stern said: “We were all super-hopeful that September would be a new beginning in all sorts of areas; now any momentum that was being achieved is being stifled.
“I’m relieved that people are still being encouraged back to the office – and based on what I’ve seen in Covid-ready offices, these are very safe places to be, so it does make sense. Getting to them in big cities remains a challenge and based on driving into London yesterday afternoon, it seems many people are in their cars…. traffic was horrendous!
“In truth, anyone who may have used public transport recently can also see that it’s pretty safe – uncrowded, excellent directional control and most people wearing facemasks – though it’s infuriating that this doesn’t seem to be being policed in any effective way.”
Adam Handling, Chef / Owner of Adam Handling Restaurant Group was forthright as always, he was also clearly extremely frustrated with the news telling us: “Another fine piece of advice from the PM. Tell people to go back to offices/schools crammed with people, yet you can’t have dinner with more than 6 of your friends or family. Let’s negatively impact the economy more than it already has been, shall we? Shut up Boris, you sound like a fool!”
Handling’s comments may not win prizes for eloquence, but they very aptly demonstrate the levels of frustration and anger felt by many in hospitality seeing businesses operating at a fraction of their capacity.
We will be scrutinising the new guidelines more this evening and reporting again tomorrow on the reaction of more hospitality people gauging more feedback and insights from the changes.
- Lockdown Two: Hospitality on the road to nowhere
- Lockdown Two: Perspective – “we must only look forward”
- Don’t look back, look forward to Safe Hospitality
- Unfollow Boris and follow consumers, this is not a twitter tactic
News from the hospitality and cratering industry is also being featured extensively in our Facebook and twitter social media accounts with the opportunity to engage with others in hospitality and share your views.