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Thu 15th Oct 2020 - Hospitality bosses warn move to tier two in London will be ‘catastrophic’ for sector
Hospitality bosses warn move to tier two in London will be ‘catastrophic’ for sector: Hospitality bosses in London have said the decision to move the capital to tier two coronavirus restrictions is “catastrophic” for the industry and without additional support there will be “mass redundancies”. London will face the new restrictions from Saturday (17 October), meaning households will be banned from meeting each other in pubs and restaurants. Londoners have also been advised to avoid public transport and reduce the number of journeys they make where possible. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Being moved into tier two is a curse for businesses. They will be trapped in a no man’s land of being open, but with severe restrictions that will significantly hit custom – all while unable to access the job support available in tier three. It is the worst of both worlds for businesses. Venues in London have already taken a hit due to the dip in inbound tourism and with people increasingly working from home. A move into tier two will now be catastrophic for some of them and it is only going to be made worse by the end of the furlough scheme in less than two weeks. The government must remove employer contributions from the Job Support Scheme for hospitality or apply tier three job support to tier two businesses. If it does not, we are looking at catastrophic businesses closures and widespread job losses in the capital as early as 1 November.” Marcos Fernandez Pardo, chief executive of Spanish restaurant group Iberica, urged the government to rethink its strategy and to go for the “circuit breaker” instead of “effectively shutting us down without support”. He told Propel: “By stopping households from mixing, we are effectively left with just 10% of our trade yet we are still expected to pay our bills. If we are closed then at least we can claim on our business interruption insurance and, under our agreements with landlords, we wouldn’t have to pay rent in Iberica because we have turnover-based agreements. There is going to be bloodshed if things don’t change.” London mayor Sadiq Khan said covid-19 was “spreading rapidly in every corner of our city”, with a “significant number” of boroughs reporting an average of 100 cases per 100,000 people. He said: “Nobody wants to see more restrictions, but this is deemed to be necessary in order to protect Londoners by myself, London council leaders and ministers.” Khan said that “action on a national scale” was still required, given “how far the virus has already been allowed to spread” and the government’s “complete failure to get a working test, trace and isolate system in place”. He added: “In London, we experienced the worst of covid-19 back in the spring. Thousands of lives were lost and our economy has been left reeling. We simply can’t afford for the government to be slow to act again.” The London-wide average infection rate was 78 new cases per 100,000 people in the week to 9 October. However, it varies widely across boroughs. Ealing had the highest rate at 119 new cases, while Bexley had 51.6. That is still much lower than the infection rate in many parts of northern England, such as the Liverpool area, which is under the most severe tier three restrictions.


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