By Denis Sheehan
The health secretary Sajid Javid this morning refused to rule out further Covid restrictions for England, as the Omicron variant spreads across the nation. But when pressed on any further information being available to help businesses prepare for any such measures health secretary Javid vacuously muttered there are “no guarantees in this pandemic”.
There certainly are not any guarantees of any help whatsoever for the hospitality industry from Javid or any other member of the government amidst more parties being unveiled taking place at Number 10 Downing Street during lockdown 2020. As more and more parties at Downing Street emerge, it seems closing hospitality had little impact on limiting socialising for those with the right government connections.
The complete and total lack of clear communications was emphasised eloquently by Michel Roux Jr yesterday when he Sky News’ Trevor Phillips on Sunday, when the acclaimed chef and restaurateur told Phillips “this is as bad as March in 2020”.
“This is as bad as March in 2020”.
“What should be our most prosperous month is now turning into a loss”, says chef and restaurateur @michelrouxjr, as he criticises the govt’s “lack of communication” to businesses during the festive season.#Phillips: https://t.co/fPDqK4ayW3 pic.twitter.com/RVgnWV1moB
— Trevor Phillips on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) December 19, 2021
Responding today about reports of further Covid restrictions, UKHospitality CEO, Kate Nicholls, said: “Trading has already been hugely damaged by the steady stream of pessimistic news following the discovery of the Omicron variant, at a time when hospitality would normally expect to be making a quarter of its annual profits.
“We know from previous lockdowns that it causes venues to haemorrhage cash. It costs £10,000 to close each site and a subsequent £10,000 per month on overheads, and that was with full furlough and rate relief. The damage that closure wreaks on consumer confidence would also increase recovery time considerably, not least because it would be coming early in the year, at the slowest period of trading. Hospitality venues have invested huge amounts of money and resources to ensure a safe environment for customers and staff alike. Throughout the pandemic, businesses have always wanted to trade their way through to recovery and that sentiment is stronger now than ever.
“However, trading levels are so poor that the need for proportionate Government support is already acute, and urgently necessary if businesses, jobs and livelihoods are to be secured. An extension to business rates relief and the lower VAT rate will help longer term planning and budgeting but speedily delivered grants will be vital to short-term business survival. To minimise further damage, it is also crucial that the Government gives as early a signal as possible about whether measures are to be imposed and what they might be, in order to allow businesses to salvage something from Christmas and the New Year.”
The silence from government is deafening…