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UKH: ‘Delay on further relaxation of restrictions will have devastating effect’

Published:  02 June, 2021

Any potential delay on further relaxation of restrictions this month would have a “devastating effect on an already-fragile hospitality sector”, Kate Nicholls, CEO of UK Hospitality (UKH) has said.

Nicholls comment comes amid rising concerns that an increase in cases could cause a delay, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans to ease England’s Covid restrictions completely on 21 June appearing increasingly doubtful after a number of government advisers urged ministers to delay.  

“The latest market data shows a quarter of hospitality venues are still shut and those that are open cannot turn a profit because of the current restrictions – a delay would push many businesses closer to the cliff edge of failure, meaning more job losses,” said Nicholls. 

Should the timings slip and restrictions remain beyond 21 June, it was vital that further financial support from the government was forthcoming, including business rates payments being postponed until at least October, and an extension of the rent moratorium while a long-term solution was found, as well as permanent lowering of VAT on hospitality goods and services, Nicholls reiterated. 

“Businesses need a swift, publicly stated commitment that such support will be in place in the event of a delay, giving them much-needed reassurance after more than 15 months of closure and severely disrupted trading,” she said.  

Meanwhile, the British Beer & Pub Association has launched a Countdown to Freedom campaign, urging the government to go ahead with the removal of all remaining restrictions on 21 June. 

Earlier this week, UKH urged sector businesses in England to fully prepare for new business rates payments that will kick in from 1 July, with new bills expected to land in the coming weeks.

This followed new data showing one in four — just under 25,000 — of Britain's licensed premises have yet to reopen despite the return of inside service, according to the latest snapshot Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners.