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Restaurateurs call on govt for London specific support

Published:  29 June, 2020

A group of high-profile London chefs and restaurateurs, including St John owners Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver, has signed an open letter to the government calling for London-specific “support and action now”.   

The letter warns that restaurants having the ability to reopen on 4 July does not “disguise the multitude of problems” faced by businesses across the capital. 

“July 4 is no silver bullet for London Town, hidden by scenes of mobbed urban parks and commons and the crazy seaside on our screens,” it reads.

The work from home policy set out by government had been so successful that many significant businesses won't reopen until autumn or even the new year, it states.

"The City is a ghost town with Fridays, once buzzing, particularly now empty, with many restaurants not reopening yet.

"The hotels have been closed and are expecting a torrid recovery, there is no long-distance tourism and those looking for cheap flights are leaving the country not coming to it, add to that quarantine rules and confusion.”

Theatres are closed, until 2021 for many, the arts are trying to come out of hibernation, restrictions are to come for cinema and visitor attractions, no attended sport, no public gatherings, concerts or events.”

August, "is looking dire," and "the damage to July is already done”, says the letter, also signed by Angela Hartnett, chef-owner of the Michelin-starred Mayfair Italian restaurant Murano, Geoff Leong of Chinatown institution Leong’s Legend, the Galvin brothers, London Union's Jonathan Downey and critic Tom Parker Bowles.

It adds that while initial government support, such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, was “most welcome, for those able to access it,” those support programmes were set to taper off, while the big issue of rent has “not gone away” and staff redundancies loom. 

The letter finishes with a call for PM Boris Johnson and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan “to sort out their differences” and to come together to provide businesses with “specific support and action now.”

Earlier this month, Westminster Council outlined the measures it plans to implement in order to help hospitality businesses continue trading while social distancing remains in place.