One third of operators ‘won’t survive six months with curfew in place’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Research results: the latest survey polled 358 board-level members of pubs, restaurants and food-to-go operations
Research results: the latest survey polled 358 board-level members of pubs, restaurants and food-to-go operations

Related tags: MA500, Multi-site pub operators, Government, Legislation

Some 35% of operators won’t survive six months with the 10pm curfew in effect, an industry poll has found.

The latest Hospitality Leaders Poll carried out by Lumina Intelligence for MCA​, The Morning Advertiser​, Restaurant​ and Big Hospitality​ also revealed the number of bookings the 358 board-level members of pubs, restaurants and food-to-go operations have had cancelled since the 10pm curfew was enforced.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the 10pm curfew for hospitality businesses earlier this month (Tuesday 22 September).

Caution to the wind

At the time, he said: “From Thursday (24 September) all pubs, bars and restaurants must operate a table service only, except for takeaways."

“Together with all those venues, they must close at 10pm. To help police enforce this rule, it means closing, not just calling for last orders because simplicity is paramount.

“The same will apply to takeaways though deliveries can continue thereafter.”

However, voices from across the trade including business leaders​ and industry bodies​ have called for the curfew to be scrapped.

From the poll, one operator said: “The curfew has actually created more close contact issues than it was supposed to resolve. The curfew needs to be removed and people revert to their standard closing times, thus ensuring people disperse at staggered times.

"People seated and drinking tend to consume less, however, put a time limit on it and they will throw caution to the wind.”

Bookings cancelled

One multi-site pub operator said trade had dropped by 20% as a result of the curfew, which was “more than expected”.

Meanwhile, almost a fifth (18%) of hospitality operators asked have seen between 30% and 40% of bookings can cancelled since the curfew was enforced on Thursday 24 September. What’s more, one in 10 (13%) of those asked have seen more than 40% of bookings cancelled, in the same period.

More than a third (38%) said the extension of the VAT cut on food, soft drinks and accommodation to the 31 March 2021 will be “very effective” in supporting their business.

However, 30% said they wouldn’t really see the effect of the tax reduction, with a quarter (25%) saying it would be averagely effective.

The survey has polled responses on how confident operators are on the future on their business each week and the latest research showed the results had worsened with just half (50%) of respondents now saying they are confident – down 8% on the previous week.

Related topics: Legislation

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