UKHospitality (UKH) has called for Tier 3 job support to be extended to businesses in Tier 2 to avoid widespread job losses.
The trade body has said moving London into Tier 2 will be catastrophic for its hospitality businesses, unless improved job support and grants are made available immediately.
The reaction comes after the mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced that London would be moving up a tier from Saturday 17 October.
Under Tier 2, households are banned from mixing in pubs and restaurants, with the public also being told to reduce use of public transport.
UKH has warned that, unless Tier 3 job support is applied to those businesses in Tier 2, the sector is facing widespread job losses within weeks.
“Being moved into Tier 2 is a curse for businesses,” says UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls (pictured).
“They will be trapped in a no man’s land of being open, but with severe restrictions that will significantly hit custom, all while unable to access the job support available in Tier 3. It is the worst of both worlds for businesses.
“Venues in London have already taken a hit due to the dip in inbound tourism and with people increasingly working from home.
“A move into Tier 2 will now be catastrophic for some of them and it is only going to be made worse by the end of the furlough scheme in under two weeks.
“The government must remove employer contributions from the Job Support Scheme for hospitality or apply Tier 3 job support to Tier 2 businesses.
“If it does not, we are looking at catastrophic businesses closures and widespread job losses in the capital as early as 1 November.”
Restaurant operators react
The effects of this news have been felt immediately by restaurant operators in the captial: “We’ve gone from having a fully booked Saturday lunch and being very busy to already having 40% of future bookings cancelled,” says James Cochran, chef founder of 12:51.
“The tier system is worse than in lockdown – consumers and business had clarity
“Right now, the government again is shirking their responsibility and instead, consumer confidence plummets and we face cancellations.”
“We’re now being told that we can stay open but households can’t mix so in other words, we’re once again expected to survive, be viable and look after our staff at the same time but with no support from the government,” adds Greg Marchand, chef patron of Frenchie Covent Garden and Frenchie Paris.
“How are we supposed to do that? These new measures will have a disastrous impact on our business!
“We’ve already made sure we’re operating as safely as possible and we have followed the government’s advice.
“Now, we’re expecting the government to show its commitment and support to our industry as many livelihoods depend on it.”
Areas moving into Tier 2 (‘high alert’) rules this weekend:
- Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria
- Elmbridge, Surrey
- Erewash, Derbyshire
- North east Derbyshire