Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Year of shuttered restaurants and bars has left hospitality ‘shattered’

Published:  22 March, 2021

In the year since the first hospitality shutdown, the sector has taken a battering with more than eight months of closure delivering a heavy blow.

The on-trade was ordered to shut its doors after trade on Friday 20 March 2020, just ahead of the first full UK-wide lockdown imposed from Tuesday 24 March, cutting off the lifeblood of the sector.

During the past 12 months, £86bn worth of business has been lost, resulting in the loss of 600,000 jobs and 12,000 business failures, according the latest UKHospitality estimates.

With only a minority of pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels feasibly able to open to outdoor trade from 12 April, and socially distanced indoor seating allowed no earlier than 17 May, the trade body has highlighted the additional stress this is placing on the sector.

“This delay means even more jobs are in danger and even more businesses are facing ruin,” said a statement released today.

It added that many businesses would not be able to break even under the proposed restrictions as gradual reopening occurs, with consumer confidence also likely to take several months to fully return, further impacting on the viability of operators.

“The last 12 months have been truly awful for our sector. That is why any controls that limit commercial activity upon reopening should be necessary and proportionate and we back the recent call from the Public Accounts Committee for the Government to provide the evidence for such limits," said UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls.

“While any restrictions remain in place, our pubs and restaurants can only break even and the viability of thousands remains at risk – we lost over 12,000 in the last year alone.

“Hospitality can lead economic recovery in the UK, providing jobs to people who have lost them and continuing to serve those most in need in communities all over the country. To do this however, we need to be able to operate without being strangled by restrictions.”

The organisations also urged government to re-look at areas of support it introduced in the Budget, “in particular the business rates cap”, which it argues unfairly penalise the many hospitality businesses forced to pay full rates within days of the proposed full lifting of restrictions in June.