Industry warns of devastating impact of ‘plan B’

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Plan impact: UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls warned that hospitality venues are in a fragile state
Plan impact: UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls warned that hospitality venues are in a fragile state

Related tags Legislation ukhospitality Kate nicholls British beer & pub association Emma McClarkin

The Government’s has been warned that plans to hold vaccine passports in reserve while revealing it in its ‘Plan B’ Winter Covid plan that compulsory face masks and ‘last resort’ lockdowns could be implemented could have a drastic impact on the pub and hospitality sector.

Prime minister Boris Johnson said in a press conference last night that not all the restrictions would necessarily be used at the same time. The good news for the pub sector is that he said that there was unlikely to be vaccine passports for pubs. 

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls warned that it was critical for the recovery of the hospitality sector and the wider economy that businesses are allowed to continue to operate in viable conditions throughout this winter. 

“Hospitality venues are still in a fragile state with significant debts, making their first steps on the road to recovery and rebuilding broken balance sheets, any setbacks over the coming months will result in more businesses closures,” she said.  

Drastic impacts

“However, we must caution Government that the introduction of those measures that are left in reserve for this winter, would have significant and drastic impacts on the sector. The use of vaccine passports, logistically unworkable and with questionable effectiveness, will have a devastating effect on nightclubs and large-scale events.” 

However, Michael Kill CEO of the Night-Time Industries Association said that businesses up and down the country are once again thinking they may have to make an enormous and detrimental change to their operating model in the future, if infection rates increase.

“The idea too, that a vast and logistically challenging policy can be kept in ‘reserve’ and implemented at one week's notice, as has been reported, is absurd. It is no way to treat a sector that has already been so badly hit. Sometimes it feels like ministers have no idea what it is like to run a business, let alone the types of businesses we represent,” he said. 

However, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), said the repeal of Covid powers to close-down or apply restrictions to premises like pubs were welcome news for the sector.

Building confidence

It said the measures would hopefully provide stability for the sector by enabling it to keep trading through the winter months, building confidence in the sector at this critical time in its recovery.

The trade association did caution that although the ‘plan B’ measures in the Government’s Winter Plan were to enable businesses like pubs to stay open, it did have concerns that asking people to work from home as part of ‘Plan B’ would impact the recovery of the sector – especially city centre pubs – and that Covid certification has not been ruled out entirely.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, said: “It is very welcome news for our sector that powers to close-down or apply restrictions to our pubs will be repealed.

“Forced closure during lockdowns and unnecessary restrictions such as the 10pm curfew, rule of six and substantial meals rule have greatly damaged our sector.

“Publicans across the country will sigh in relief knowing they have stability to keep trading over the winter months. We also urge the devolved administrations to follow the approach that has been outlined today.

“Of course, ‘plan B’ measures suggesting working from home are concerning as they would impact the recovery of our sector – particularly city centre pubs – if implemented. It is also vital Covid certification continues to be ruled out for pubs under any future plans.”

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