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Food & accommodation sectors have largest proportion furloughed

Published:  05 June, 2020

The extent to which lockdown has impacted on the UK hospitality sector has been thrown into sharp relief by the latest ONS (Office for National Statistics) figures.

Accomodation and food services have furloughed some 84% of the workforce, ahead of arts, entertainment and recreation at 73%, with the next closest sector being construction, at 40%.

The average for all industries across the UK for staff entered into the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) sits at 28.1%.

The figures, released on 4 July in the ONS’s ‘Coronavirus and the economic impacts on the UK’ update, also revealed that 39% of food, hospitality and leisure businesses were ‘not sure’ of when they might reopen, with 37% saying it would be ‘more than four weeks’.

The UK restaurant, bar and pub sector, of course, cannot begin to reopen (except for takeaways) until after 4 July, but the figures reveal the scale of the challenge faced by the food and drinks trade.

Surveyed on safety measures to be implemented when businesses across all sectors restarted trading, social distancing came out top, at 89%, with personal protective equipment (PPE), at 82%, in second place.

Both of these measures are currently vexing many restaurant, bar and pub owners grappling with the challenge of reopening in a safe and yet financially viable way, with 2 metre social distancing and the potential added turn off of PPE for some customers.

Another sign of how badly the hospitality sector has been hit by the pandemic and lockdown is revealed in the uptake of CJRS, with 95% of the sector having applied for and been granted support (just 0.2% behind real estate-related businesses), although with the lowest number across all sectors, at just 3.5%, having not received any government funding support at all.