Boris Johnson’s roadmap did not contain many surprises yesterday. The timelines are not what many had hoped for, but do at last provide a framework around planning to reopen.
Preparation for reopening can now start in earnest, so we have spoken with some of the UK’s leading hoteliers to reflect and gauge their reactions to the roadmap, and what is next.
Brenda Collin FIH, Senior Vice President Europe, Preferred Hotels & Resorts told us: “The government have been too cautious with reopening dates, but it is what it is.
“What can they do now?
“Offer support to all Hospitality businesses in the form of immediate and full financial relief of NI payments and pension contributions, to ensure job protection.
“Critical to also confirm support of an extended VAT reduction, and most importantly, business rates relief.
“One of the biggest opportunities to kickstart UK hospitality would be to offer a holiday voucher for UK staycations to all households instead of the Eat out to help out scheme. A holiday voucher would benefit hotels, restaurants as well as all business in the local communities.”
Harry Murray MBE, Chairman, Lucknam Park as always was to the point saying: “The PM’s announcement yesterday was very disappointing in as much as we now have to wait three months to open.
“What is difficult to accept is that if the reopening schedule is based on data, all the evidence points to hospitality being safe.
“As many as four in five business do not have sufficient cash flow to get through to March, so without additional support they will not survive for the next three months and many will close.
“It is clear that the only way forward for the hospitality industry is to have a Dedicated Minster for Hospitality who will work with hospitality leaders and appreciate the value of the UK’s fourth largest industry to the economy and its role in creating jobs.
“We are now reliant upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer to increase fiscal and financial support measures in his budget next week that enable the Prime Minister’s roadmap to be realised.”
David Morgan-Hewitt MI FIH, Managing Director of The Goring and Chairman of the Master Innholders set out his reaction telling us: “Like my Master Innholder colleagues across the country I listened very carefully to what the Prime Minister had to say in Parliament.
“There is no doubt that with the lifting of restrictions comes risk, but we all realise we cannot stay in lockdown for ever.
“However, I would implore the Government to be very aware of the serious challenges which will continue to face the hotel sector over the next few months, especially hotels in London and other major cities.
“We cannot play our vital role within the community without continuing Government assistance to save thousands of jobs and once again provide the huge financial contribution we make to the British economy.
“I sincerely hope that Treasury plans now exist to extend the Business Rates Holiday for the full 2021/2022 financial year and that VAT remains at 5% for our sector.”
Chair of the Manchester Hotelier’s Association Adrian Ellis focused on the work ahead by saying: “The roadmap is generally very positive with clear guidelines and timescales announced. Whilst hospitality wants to open as soon as possible, we respect the need for careful caution and of course none of us want to implicate a return to further lockdowns later this year.
“I am extremely pleased to hear that we are not returning to tiers and that the curfew and ‘meals with drinks’ restrictions will be lifted.
“All parts of our business will be operational from 17th May, which is a date to work towards and the strategy outlined today we hope will provide confidence for guests to start booking stays and encourage the much needed resurgence of business.”
Sally Beck FIH MI, GM of the Royal Lancaster London took a holistic view and said: “I am genuinely frustrated that museums and retail can open before hotels, with our safety measures and social distancing that we have all put in place, we should be able to open hotels on 12 April as we are much safer than retail with our contactless check-ins, room service and minibars.
“That said I am very pleased that our restaurants and bars can start working on the rule of 6 again from 17 May and that the curfews and alcohol with a ‘substantial meal initiatives’ have been scrapped.
“I’m really delighted about all events being able to restart again from 21 June, a great result for those providing services for events, conferences and banqueting.”
Making the calls referred to above, some frantic email exchanges and speaking to some who prefer to stay silent at the moment, the tone of conversations were as enlightening as what was said. There is disappointment with the timelines, but most seem to now be focusing on moving forward to reopening.
There was also consensus that the Chancellor of the Exchequer now needs to stand by his Prime Minister and, once again to quote Harry Murray, provide: “Fiscal and financial support measures in his budget next week that enable the Prime Minister’s roadmap to be realised.”
News from the hospitality and catering 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.
Hospitality & Catering News: Boris’ roadmap straight down the middle of the road, now needs Rishi’s full backing. – 23 February 2021 – Boris’ roadmap straight down the middle of the road, now needs Rishi’s full backing.
Copyright: All content in Hospitality & Catering News is protected by copyright.