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'Easing of restrictions does not mean easing of challenges'

Published:  22 July, 2021

The scale of the challenges facing hospitality businesses as they look to rebuild from the effects of the pandemic means government support continues to be essential, key industry bodies have said.

Warning that the long-awaited easing of restrictions this week did not mark an easing of challenges for sector businesses, UK Hospitality, The British Beer and Pub Association and The British Institute of Innkeeping said new research had highlighted major concerns around staffing, the supply chain and tapering of government support.

The research also revealed that the current ‘pingdemic’, as a result of the NHS Covid app, meant up to as many as a fifth of staff in the sector were isolating at any one time, forcing operators to reduce operating hours or to close venues completely, threatening to derail recovery.

“The easing of all legal restrictions should mark a progression into the recovery phase for our sector, which has been hardest hit during the pandemic and only now permitted to trade unrestricted and make progress toward rebuilding and paying off accrued debts,” said the three trade bodies said in a joint statement.

“But businesses are faced with a range of pressing challenges meaning the road to recovery will be bumpy for many months to come. The sector has already lost more than 12,000 venues during the course of the pandemic and more than half a million jobs  without further adequate support there will be more businesses and jobs lost." 

For hospitality to begin a “sustainable recovery”, it was essential for government to continue working closely with the industry, the trio added, in order to put in place the right trading environment, including measures such as further business rates relief into next year and the extension of the lower rate of VAT. 

“This will offer firms the chance to bounce back strongly and help to rebuild fragile consumer confidence. With the right support, hospitality can be at the forefront of the nation’s economic recovery, creating jobs and reviving our high streets and city centres,” said the trade bodies.

The survey was based on over 350 businesses operating tens of thousands of venues.