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The government’s decision to pursue a ‘Plan B’ in response to rising cases of Covid-19 could put hospitality businesses at risk in the coming weeks and months.
That’s according to industry experts including Kate Nicholls from the trade body UKHospitality, who has said new public health restrictions could represent a huge problem for hospitality businesses over the festive period and beyond.
Bar and restaurant businesses rely particularly on boosting their profits during the Christmas period but their trade is now likely to be hampered in the short term by new rules on Covid passports and more people working from home.
The government’s Plan B has been introduced in response to the spread of the newly discovered Covid-19 variant, Omicron, and concerns that it will lead to a sharp rise in hospitalisations within a matter of weeks.
In England, nightclubs and other settings where large numbers of people gather, will now need to operate on the basis of checking the Covid passports of their patrons.
Meanwhile, employers have been told they should allow members of their workforces to operate from home if they’re able to.
Ms Nicholls from UKHospitality is convinced that more people working from home will be bad news for businesses in her sector.
“The measures announced today will significantly impact consumer confidence and be particularly devastating to city and town centre venues,” she said in a statement.
“They risk devastating the hospitality sector amid its most important time of the year,” she added.
Meanwhile, Craig Beaumont from the Federation of Small Businesses has said that the switch to Plan B could be a “body blow” for operators in the hospitality sector, many of which are struggling still to recover from the impacts of successive lockdowns since early 2020.
“Christmas parties are already being cancelled, but this could turn the lights out for many struggling hospitality businesses,” Mr Beaumont told the Financial Times.
UKHospitality is calling for the government to offer full business rates relief, access to grants and rent protections to businesses across the hospitality sector.
“Anything less would prove catastrophic,” said Ms Nicholls, the organisation’s chief executive.
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