The Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday on his roadmap to recovery out of lockdown has been met with disappointment from hospitality leaders, calling the plan a ‘bitter pill to swallow’, with hospitality ‘last in the queue to reopen’.
Yesterday, Boris Johnson revealed his four-step plan, which will be rolled out in five-week intervals, which will see pubs and restaurants and hotels able to trade indoors from May 17 at the earliest, as part of step 3 of the roadmap.
Venues are able to trade outside from April 12, with non-essential retail, gyms and leisure facilities as well as public buildings permitted to open from this date.
CAMRA National chairman Nik Antona stressed the need for more financial support for pubs as the roadmap statement only provides ‘limited reopening’.
He said: “While we understand the Government’s cautious approach, this will nonetheless be a disappointing announcement for the beer and pub industry, which looks set to be the last to be allowed to properly re-open.
“We know that pubs aren’t vectors for transmission, so ministers must publish the full evidence behind applying restrictions on pubs when the likes of non-essential retail will be able to fully open up sooner and without restrictions.
“Whilst scrapping the curfew and substantial meal requirement is welcome, only permitting pubs to operate using outside space at first, and then inside using table service only, isn’t a proper re-opening. Two thirds of pubs could stay closed during the outdoor-only trading period, with many more likely to struggle without being able to trade at full capacity while the table-service-only requirement remains.
“The Budget must also include an extension to furlough and the business rates holiday, a reduction in VAT for on trade alcohol sales as well as food and cutting duty for beer served in pubs to help them compete with supermarkets.”
Michael Caines, chef patron at Lympstone Manor in Devon said the news ‘doesn’t make much sense’ and that the hospitality had been ‘singled out’ in its wait to reopen until May
“This afternoon’s news was a bitter pill to swallow, as an industry we should be heralding the lifting of the draconian measures of the curfew and the substantial meals, but this news is dwarfed by the blow dealt to us as a sector that we cannot fully reopen until the 17th May. It doesn’t make much sense that our sector must wait another month to open while other closer contact sectors can go back. Whilst outdoor hospitality can re-open, how can any business reliably base their operations on the English weather.
“It seems that our industry has been singled out in its wait to reopen until May, all the while shortening what could be a profitable season and reducing the opportunity to make back the losses in what could have been a great spring of Staycations. The news is staggering and disappointing.”