This comes following the recent Government announcement of mandatory face masks everywhere except in hospitality settings and an increase in UK cases of the latest Covid variant, Omicron.
Of the 69 people who voted in the MA’s poll, 54 (78%) said they had noticed an increase in bookings being cancelled over the past week, 4 (11%) said they were concerned about this in the run up to Christmas, and just 11 (16%) said they had not seen a rise in cancellations.
Amid the confusion surrounding Covid and ambiguity of what the festive period could look like, Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) CEO Michael Kill has called on the Government to be clearer with its intentions for the hospitality industry as the uncertainty is killing the sector.
Kill said: “At the moment operating costs are at their highest, we are now faced with another poorly-conceived communications strategy from the Government which has and will severely impact businesses.
“Christmas bookings and advance ticket sales have already been hit following the announcement of the new Omicron variant.
“The Government needs to recognise that, while restrictions are not in place for the hospitality and night-time economy sectors, we are reliving the moments of March 2020 where the Prime Minister asked people not to go to pubs, bars, clubs and theatres."
Covid restrictions were lifted on 19 July, but after the latest revision of Covid guidelines, booking website DesignMyNight saw an increase in cancellations (especially Christmas and large party bookings) of 14% between 13 November 2021 and 20 November 2021, and by 28 November, cancellations were even higher when compared to the previous week, reaching an increase of 15%.
Still hope for a successful Christmas
Licensee of the Spread Eagle, Homerton, Hackney, east London, Luke McLoughlin said: “We've had a few big parties cancel for this week, so it is a concern.
“When you've got a big area booked for twenty, thirty or forty people, having that cancelled and trying to refill that last minute, it's quite a challenge, the tables of 2, 4, and 6, are still coming through but it's the big bookings that I think are going to be affected.
“We've got a couple of weeks until we understand more about transmissibility of the new variant, and what the effects of the vaccines are, so I’m hopeful we'll have a successful run into Christmas, but that's yet to be seen.”