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Gove confirms parts of hospitality sector among last to reopen

Published:  20 April, 2020

Cabinet office minister Michael Gove has confirmed that restaurants, bars and pubs will be among the last to reopen for business following the Covid-19 lockdown. 

When asked whether we could see such outlets reopen before winter on BBC’s Andrew Marr programme aired yesterday (19 April), Gove said: "Areas of hospitality will be among the last to exit the lockdown, yes that is true, they will be among the last."

"This virus has changed so much, it's a new virus of a great potency and lethality. It spreads remarkably fast, we want to ensure that we can get on top of it," he added. 

"We also want to ensure the economic life of the nation, the social life of the nation, can return over time but even as some restrictions are lifted the way in which our schools, the way in which our shops and factories operate will change as a result of what we know about this virus and what we know about social distancing.

"Of course, we want to make sure that the best scientific advice guides us as we take an approach towards easing these restrictions in the right way with appropriate safeguards."

The statement follows Friday’s announcement by the government that it was extending the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furloughing) to the end of June 2020. 

It also comes as Jonathan Downey, co-founder of London Union - parent company of Street Feast - prepares to submit a formal proposal to the Treasury this week calling for a nine-month debt-free period for hospitality businesses forced to close. 

Downey believes the UK needs a period of nine months rent free for pubs, bars and restaurants in order to prevent the permanent closure of thousands of businesses.

“I think the next best measure is a 'national time out' where the next nine months until 31 December are rent free for any hospitality business. In order to make that work with landlords, we need to make sure they get a debt repayment break so that they’re not repaying any loans for nine months which they’ve taken out on properties that they’re not getting rent from,” he said.