Boris Johnson has delivered his roadmap for reopening, the timelines are not what some had hoped for, but do provide a framework to start planning the reopening process, alongside defined guidelines.
With preparations for reopening now starting in earnest, we spoke with some of the UK’s leading caterers to gauge their initial reactions to the roadmap, and what follows on from it.
Tim Jones, Chairman, CH&Co like the Prime Minister took a cautious view, but in quite different context to the PM telling us: “I can understand why the PM feels he needs to take a cautious approach to the release of the lockdown restrictions, but I do feel that the moves suggested for hospitality are not proportionate.
“The data pointing to the minimal transmission in hospitality, coupled with the current data illustrating speed of vaccinations, a steep fall in deaths, and fewer hospitalisations and cases, suggests that there is more scope to open up the industry and the wider economy faster than is proposed.
“If the reopening of hospitality and leisure sites does have to be delayed in this manner, then it must be matched by significant financial support for businesses that are directly impacted by these policies.”
Wendy Bartlett, Founder, Bartlett Mitchell was positive and pragmatic saying: “Whilst the roadmap is welcome as it offers light at the end of a very long tunnel, 17 May is a long time away and we need to see how the Government plans to offer serious support for what is effectively another lockdown.
“The Government’s financial packages need to support an industry which has been impacted more than most sectors for the best part of a year.
“Businesses spent thousands of pounds to make their venues covid-secure, only to be locked down again.
“We need to see how they want to address the effect this is having on the lives of 3.2m people working directly in our sector.”
BaxterStorey CEO, Noel Mahony was resolute, calling on the chancellor for his assurance of support: “Our sector has faced challenges like few others during this pandemic.
“Now that we have a roadmap which is said to be data driven, I hope that this data is shared so we can all see how decisions are being made which impact the livelihoods of millions of people across the UK.
“We now await the chancellor’s assurance that he will continue to support our sector while we remain in lockdown.”
Managing Director, The Genuine Dining Co, Chris Mitchell focused on the workplace and told us: “It’s positive that we finally have a roadmap to work towards, obviously much later than we would have liked.
“I was disappointed that the public are advised to work from home if possible until the last steps of the plan are implemented.
“Offices are exceptionally safe with companies going to great lengths to make them Covid-secure many months ago.
“I am, however, positive that catering will continue to play a very important part in the return to the office.
“We work in spaces that have been built for collaboration, community and interaction, I’m sure that these topics are also being spoken about in a lot of board rooms currently.”
Simon Houston FIH, Director, Houston & Hawkes also focused on the chancellor saying: “We’ve all seen the consequences of when lockdown measures have been lifted too quickly, so a cautious approach makes sense.
“However, our industry has been decimated and we need a guarantee that the financial support measures in place will be extended, along with a clear roadmap as to how the government is going to support employers to get their staff back to the office environment.
“We need people back in our cities to get hospitality the UK economy pumping again.”
In the discussions referred to above there is disappointment with the timelines, that said, the focus is now very much on moving forward and reopening.
There was one note of unanimous consensus threaded through all communications, verbal and electronic, the Chancellor of the Exchequer now needs to deliver fiscal and financial support to enable the Prime Minister’s roadmap to be realised.
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Hospitality & Catering News: Caterers’ react to roadmap. – 23 February 2021 – Caterers’ react to roadmap.
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