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Hospo Demo urges UK government to ‘save hospitality’

Hundreds of hospitality workers gathered in Parliament Square, London, yesterday (19 October) to protest the UK government’s restrictions on the sector, as the industry warns thousands of jobs are at risk.

The hospitality sector staged a peaceful protest in London on Monday 19 October

Protestors brought pots, pans, cocktail shakers and more to create as much noise as possible and make sure the industry was heard.

Those in attendance included Sly Augustin, owner of London bar Trailer Happiness; Alex Kratena, co-founder of London bar Tayēr + Elementary; Jillian MacLean, CEO of Drake & Morgan; and chefs Jason Atherton, Tom Aikens and Yottam Ottolenghi.

Covid-19 cases are rising in the UK. However, data from Public Health England continuously shows that the number of cases outside of the home related to hospitality is extremely low, with the most recent statistics showing fewer than 3% of traceable infections outside of the home were linked to the sector. The majority of cases were related to care homes, educational settings and workplaces.

Rachel Harty, Hospo Demo founder and industry marketer, said: “To see so many from our industry come together on Parliament Square this morning [Monday 19 October] was extremely powerful.

“We’ve been dealt some heavy blows over the past six months and we are looking at a bleak future if the government does not revise its policies relating to the hospitality industry.

“Without enhanced financial support and additional government contributions to the Job Support Scheme we are going to see many businesses fall by the wayside.”

750,000 jobs could be lost

Venues in England were hit with a 10pm curfew in September, before a new three-tier Covid-19 alert level system was introduced last week. Ranging from tier one (medium) to tier three (very high), tier two means no mixing of households indoors, while tier three means a ban on households mixing indoors and outdoors, and the closure of all pubs and bars not selling meals.

Speaking to The Spirits Business last week, Augustin warned that the new measures would make it “virtually impossible” for venues to continue operating in the long term, and said anything longer than a fortnight would mean “many businesses will be thinking about winding down”.

Trade bodies are urging the UK government to offer more financial support for hospitality businesses, which have been severely impacted by new restrictions.

This week, trade bodies UK Hospitality, the British Institute of Innkeeping and the British Beer & Pub Association revealed the results of a recent survey, conducted by CGA, which showed more than three quarters (76%) of businesses were working at a loss.

With the furlough scheme due to end this month, and the Job Support Scheme ‘not viable for most hospitality businesses’, the survey shows that by February 2021 more than 750,000 jobs will be lost compared with employment figures from February 2020 without additional government support.

A joint spokesperson for the trade bodies said: “There can be no doubt of the devastating impact that the government’s restrictions are having on hospitality and pub businesses across the UK.

“Without urgent sector-specific support for our industry, massive business failure is imminent and hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost around Christmas from a sector that was in growth at the beginning of this year, as well as in the supply chain that supports them.

“While there are any restrictions placed on hospitality and pubs, there must be financial support in place across all tiers of risk.”

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