UKHospitality (UKH) chief executive Kate Nicholls told delegates at The Morning Advertiser’s digital MA500 conference (Thursday 14 May) the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme had saved 2.5m jobs because this was number of employees furloughed in the hospitality sector.
She said: “We know hospitality won’t be open earlier than July but it is vital we have some businesses starting to open then – particularly seasonal [businesses].
“The cornerstone has to be evolution of Government support packages to end of year, if not into 2021.”
Nicholls added: “UKH is calling for the Government to guarantee furlough, grants and loans extended. As we go into recovering period in 2021, we need to ensure business rates holiday is extended so we don’t cripple with an overload of debt from rent and rates.
“[We need a] gradual evolution of those schemes and making sure those schemes are supported.”
She went on to outline how the industry was impacted by coronavirus months before lockdown was announced.
She said: “We were the first sector to go into feeling the effects of Covid-19, which started at the end of January when we had a reduction in the number of overseas tourists.
“[This] steadily worsened over the course of February, as people increasingly worked from home, business events were cancelled and we saw a decline in footfall in most of our city centres – falling from 30% decline in footfall at the start of February to 70% by the time we had the announcement from the Prime Minister of avoiding pubs, bars and restaurants.”
Following this, the trade body welcomed the announcement of ministerial-led task forces this week (Wednesday 13 May).
The Department for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy (BEIS) will head a new Government task force to establish how and when pubs can safely reopen after Covid-19 lockdown.
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