Pubs and restaurants in Birmingham have suffered immensely during the third lockdown and are struggling to survive, according to Mike Olley, general manager of the Westside Business Improvement District (BID).
Venues on the city’s ‘golden mile’ of Broad Street contribute tens of millions of pounds per year in taxes and reopening hospitality as soon as possible would boost the country’s beleaguered economy, Olley said.
Ahead of the Prime Minister announcing his roadmap out of lockdown on Monday 22 February, the business leader called for the document to include a clear sector reopening date.
Olley said: “Everyone understands the reasons for the lockdowns, but if they have worked well enough for schools to start reopening then it’s also time to consider hospitality, where the data shows that Covid-19 infections have been much lower.”
Vaccine roll out
His calls come as trade body UKHospitality have published its ten-point plan for reopening pubs, calling on an early April reopening with a relaxation of rules in the summer as more of the population become protected by vaccines.
“We’re not demanding to open our doors at exactly the same time as schools, but we would like to have a timetable as it will take venues weeks to reorganise their remaining staff, replace those who have left and to order stock.
“Now a vaccine exists and is being steadily distributed across the population, I would have thought it’s possible for the hospitality industry to reopen at the same time as non-essential shops, with all the necessary social distancing and hygiene regulations.
Pubs should be permitted to reopen at the end of March or early April, the business leader said.
Preparation for reopening
“This would give management something to start aiming at, and then as the date gets closer the government could get more specific and might even plan a phased return to trading for different types of outlet,” Olley added.
He said: “On Westside alone, the entertainment sector generates tens of millions of pounds each year in business rates, PAYE, corporation and VAT taxes, all of which help pay for the NHS, social services, social security, the police, roads, military and a host of other public services.
“Across the UK, that taxation equals many billions, and now is the time to start thinking seriously about restarting that economic cycle.”