It also revealed hotel occupancy has decreased by 15% and warned forward bookings across pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels have fallen by 50%.
At the time of publication, the UK had 319 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with five people having died from the virus.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for urgent Government action including a businesses rates moratorium for a minimum for three months, extendable dependent on the extent of virus spread, any quarantined area to have business rates abolished for the period of non-trading.
She also called for:
- Business payment delay to ease cash flow
- Consumer incentives to book trips and holidays such as a VAT cut, so trade can resume as quickly as possible when the virus threat subsides
- To adapt universal credit to support businesses suffering severe trade and cash flow disruption by contributing to wage payments for those whose services are not required in the short term and/or implementing statutory sick pay support for businesses with staff unable to work or under-employed
- Slash national insurance contributions for a year to help the retention of employees
- Make low or interest-free loans available to cover trade disruption
- Ensure insurers are suitably supported to assist businesses dealing with cancellations
- Pause immigration proposals because they are consuming business bandwidth and causing uncertainty
- Continue a close liaison with businesses to ensure the best available advice is reaching them
Nicholls said: “Hospitality businesses are on the front line, so to speak. There has been a significant impact on the sector.
“Bookings are down, footfall is down and all signs point to it getting worse before it gets better. This is now an emergency for our sector. If the Government doesn’t act to mitigate the impact and give us support, businesses are in danger.”
She added: “This means cash flow becomes a problem, venues are under threat and jobs at risk. By the time the immediate threat of the virus has subsided, it may be too late for some businesses. Support is needed and it is needed now.”
This followed research from more than 1,700 consumers carried out on behalf of The Morning Advertiser by intelligence experts Streetbees, which found just 14% of them saying coronavirus would put them off visiting the pub.
Some 41% said despite concern about public gatherings, they would visit the pub with another two fifths (40%) citing their decision would depend on how serious the situation the outbreak became and 5% didn’t know.