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UKH calls for recovery roadmap and pledges to assist vaccine roll-out

Published:  05 January, 2021

UK Hospitality (UKH) has called for a road map to recovery and has committed to assisting the vaccine roll-out.

The moves follow the respective statements strengthening Covid restrictions (lockdown) in England and Scotland announced yesterday by Boris Johnson and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.  

The tighter restrictions were a “clear and grave indication” that we are still a long way from normality, said CEO Kate Nicholls. 

“That means hospitality businesses are a long way from being able to begin to trade their way back to safety and keep jobs alive.

“In which case, the government has to be clear about how it is going to make the best possible use of this time. It needs to be used effectively to provide a rapid and extensive roll out of the vaccine and we need a clear exit strategy along with a road map for recovery and business support,” she said. 

Moreover, she said the hospitality sector could assist in the rapid roll out of the vaccine, adding the trade body was “keen to repay the support shown to us”. 

“Our sector is sitting on well-ventilated, Covid-secure spaces such as hotels, conference centres, pubs and restaurants which can be used and businesses are already coming forward to offer locations to expedite a mass vaccination programme,” she said. 

Yesterday, BrewDog announced it was in talks with the British and Scottish governments over offering its bars to help roll out the coronavirus vaccine.

Nicholls also took the opportunity to highlight that it is now “more important than ever” that hospitality businesses, who were "hit first and hardest" by the crisis were given another package of grants to keep them alive. 

This, she said, has to come alongside an extension of the VAT cut and business rates holiday, which were already urgently needed even before these further restrictions were announced. 

This was echoed by Emma McClarkin, CEO of the British Beer & Pub Association, who said unless a greater package of financial support from the government was given to secure pubs and the brewers that supply them “a wave of business failures” was imminent.

“That means grants in line with those in the first lockdown and support beyond April when the business rates holiday, lower VAT rates and furlough scheme all end.  

Johnson announced the national lockdown in a briefing last night, which followed Sturgeon’s announcement earlier in the afternoon that restrictions “similar to the lockdown of March last year” would be implemented in Scotland from midnight last night.