UK government must confirm hospitality reopening dateBy Nicola Carruthers
Trade body UK Hospitality has urged the government to confirm a reopening date for the hospitality and tourism sectors in England.
Previously, UK prime minister Boris Johnson said England’s bars and restaurants could reopen as early as 4 July. The UK on-trade has been closed since 20 March to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Last week, the Scottish government confirmed bars in Scotland will be allowed to open along with other hospitality venues and tourism businesses from 15 July. The Stormont Executive confirmed yesterday (15 June) that hotels, bars and restaurants can reopen on 3 July in Northern Ireland.
UK Hospitality has written to the secretaries of state for the department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to repeat the “urgent need for clarity” to allow businesses to return to trading.
UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We need confirmation of the reopening date for hospitality businesses without any further delay. Businesses need time to prepare and the first step in giving them some much-needed clarity is confirmation of when they can open their doors again.
“This is particularly important for hotels and tourism, where 60% of bookings are made more than two weeks in advance. If the sector is to reopen on 4 July, that only gives us two weeks from this weekend, so time is of the essence.
“Friday’s GDP figures – with hospitality and tourism representing a quarter of the total decline – illustrated the powerful economic might of the sectors, so the country can ill afford delaying their return to trading.”
Nicholls also welcomed the UK government’s announcement on Sunday (14 June) that it plans to review the two-metre physical distancing rule.
She said: “A review of the two-metre social distancing rule is a positive show of intent for hospitality but with less than three weeks to the proposed reopening date for our sector, a crucial element of certainty is conspicuously absent.
“If we want the reopening to be a success, we must have confirmation of the reopening date, alongside Covid-19-secure guidelines for the sector, supported by a commitment from the government to support tourism and hospitality businesses through a cut in tourism VAT and air passenger duty, an extension of the rent moratorium to protect from landlord activity and the creation of an autumn bank holiday.”