The Welsh government’s policy ruling that pubs will not have to close at 10 pm but will instead have to stop serving alcohol at this time sends out a clear message to Nicola Sturgeon and her 10 pm curfew for Scotland that there is room for compromise.
Scotland’s curfew comes into force tomorrow, and Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford clarified what was initially thought to be a similar 10 pm curfew by saying that by stopping the serving of alcohol instead, it will allow an “orderly close” rather than people rushing to “drink up” or “eat up” and that a strict 22:00 closure would cause “real damage” to pubs and restaurants that had already adopted their businesses for COVID.
Meanwhile, trade bodies say the hospitality sector is teetering on the edge following new restrictions announced by Prime Minister, which could result in 540,000 further jobs lost with a quarter of UK hospitality businesses believe they could fail in next three months without further Government support.
The British Beer & Pub Association, UKHospitality and the British Institute of Innkeeping have unveiled new findings from UK-wide research conducted by hospitality market research company CGA showing that almost a quarter (23%) of their members think their businesses will fail by the end of the year without it.
The survey also found that one in eight hospitality staff have already been made redundant, and that more sector jobs are expected to be permanently lost when the Government’s furlough scheme comes to an end in October. On average, businesses believe their workforce will be 25% lower by February 2021 compared to February this year – a decline of 675,000 jobs lost from the sector in a year.
Only 7% of respondents said they were feeling optimistic about the prospects of the hospitality sector over the next 12 months, down from 23% in August and 19% in July when respondents were previously asked the same question.
They have urged the Government to immediately put in place a new sector-specific employment support package and to extend the VAT cut and business rates holiday for the sector.
Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UKHospitality, said, “The future of the sector is still very much in the balance. Many venues have still have not reopened and those that have are operating at reduced capacity and a fraction of normal revenue. We have already had some high-profile casualties and far too many job losses.
“The additional restrictions announced this week place even further burdens on a sector that is operating with razor-thin margins and needs all the help it can get. It is vital that these restrictions are reviewed regularly.
“We need comprehensive financial support so that those businesses that survive the winter can begin to rebuild next year, starting with a package of measures to support short time working. The VAT cut for hospitality must be extended through 2021, as must the business rates holiday. We also need the government to step in now and help to deal with the rent debt that has built up over months of enforced lockdown.”