Bosses of more than 100 sector businesses urge PM to intervene to avoid ‘bleakest of winters’: Bosses of more than 100 hospitality businesses in the UK, including pubs, restaurants and hotels, have written to prime minister Boris Johnson warning he must personally do more to help them. The letter, led by UKHospitality, the British Beer & Pub Association and the British Institute of Innkeeping, said without additional and urgent support many businesses will not “survive this bleakest of winters” and hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost. The letter states even prior to the latest covid-19 restrictions, half of all hospitality businesses did not believe they would survive beyond the middle of next year. It said the latest restrictions – including the 10pm curfew – “have made this fight to survive even harder”. The letter calls on the government to commit to review the appropriateness of the latest restrictions at least every three weeks, and to remove them if they are found to not be impacting the spread of the virus. The letter also states if hospitality businesses are to survive and “lead the economic and employment recovery”, they need more government support. Bosses said the chancellor’s winter support package “does not go nearly far enough for our imperilled sector”. The letter said: “Without an immediate review of the support on offer to pubs, restaurants and wider hospitality businesses, many will be lost for years to come.” The letter calls on the government to remove employer contributions for the hospitality sector to the Job Support Scheme and provide a package of grant funding for those businesses that face restrictions being brought forward. To plan and rebuild beyond the winter, bosses said “the VAT cut and business rates holiday must also be extended through 2021 and beer duty cut”. In closing, the letter asks Johnson “to intervene as a matter of urgency” and offers a meeting of sector leaders to help draw up a sector-specific support package to reflect sector-specific restrictions and prevent “the devastating damage that is drawing ever closer”.
Nicola Sturgeon – ‘limit visits to pubs and restaurants’, hospitality ban on students lifted: First minister Nicola Sturgeon has said people in Scotland should try and limit their visits to place like pubs and restaurants. In her latest covid-19 briefing, Sturgeon said: “We should all try to limit our visits and social interactions in places like pubs and restaurants.” She continued to stress that when meeting others outdoors, groups of six people from two households are the maximum permitted, before adding that visits to pubs and restaurants should be limited and people should work from home where possible. Responding to her wording, BrewDog chief operating officer David McDowall said: “Do our leaders really understand the impact they are having on people’s livelihoods with this type of language?” UKHospitality's chief executive Kate Nicholls tweeted: “This will devastate businesses that are clinging on by their fingertips – this is closure in all but name and we need immediate sector-specific support.” Meanwhile students in Scotland will be allowed to visit pubs and restaurants this weekend after university bosses banned them last week. Sturgeon urged students not to visit any hospitality venues in an effort to control a number of covid-19 outbreaks in student accommodation. Universities Scotland slapped a ban on house parties and also forbade socialising with others outside their household, with the ruling body stating breaches would “not be tolerated”. It also introduced a yellow card/red card system for those breaking the regulations with the threat of studies being stopped for those flouting the rules as a last-resort punishment. The Scottish government confirmed there is no longer a ban on visiting hospitality sites, with Universities Scotland expected to follow suit. The ban on parties remains in place.