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Fri 16th Oct 2020 - 200,000 hospitality workers to lose their jobs this weekend amid new London restrictions
200,000 hospitality workers to lose their jobs this weekend amid new London restrictions: London restaurateurs have said they will “struggle to survive” without additional financial support as they see a surge in cancelled bookings amid new coronavirus restrictions in the city. From Saturday (17 October), London moves into tier two, meaning households are banned from mixing indoors. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls explained businesses in tier two will suffer from maximum restrictions but without the financial support offered to companies in tier three, and said: “About 200,000 people in central London are going to lose their jobs this weekend.” Greg Marchand, chef-patron of Frenchie Covent Garden and Frenchie Paris, said: “We’re now being told we can stay open but households can’t mix so, in other words, we’re once again expected to survive, be viable and look after our staff at the same time but with no support from the government. How are we supposed to do that? These new measures will have a disastrous impact on our business. We’ve already made sure we’re operating as safely as possible and we have followed the government’s advice. Now, we’re expecting the government to show its commitment and support to our industry as many livelihoods depend on it.” Stuart Procter, chief operating officer of The Stafford Collection, added: “The industry needs an extended furlough if we are to survive because we’re being hung out to dry across the country. We were just starting to claw it back after being closed for so long and now it seems we’re right back to square one again.” James Cochran, owner of 12:51 in Islington, said: “We’ve gone from having a fully booked Saturday lunch and being very busy to already having 40% of future bookings cancelled. The tier system is worse than in lock-down. Consumers and business had clarity. Right now, the government again is shirking its responsibility and instead, consumer confidence plummets and we face cancellations.” Rahul Khanna, co-founder of Pali Hill in Fitzrovia, added: “I don’t understand the banning the mixing of households in a safe setting that have followed rules and invested to make their premises covid-safe, including the government-sanctioned Test and Trace. In a time where social meetings are already so limited, the joy of seeing a friend and breaking bread are some of the only pleasures we have afforded to us and we were glad to be able to facilitate. This ruling shows the government has little understanding of how restaurants have been operating, or what they are offering to the public, if they think this is something that will truly control covid-19 infection rates. Tom Brown, owner of Cornerstone in Hackney, said: “The tier system doesn’t help us or diners. Why does London get treated as one entity? Every borough is completely different. We might as well shut the whole industry down now, looks like that’s what it (the government) wants.” Brodie Meah, co-founder of Top Cuvee, added: “We have already seen a drop on larger tables, which shows people are really taking it seriously. It’s hard to know how we can enforce it – do we need to start asking guests to bring in dated utility bills? Best we can do for now is maximise on availability on tables of two.” Marwa Alkhalaf, chef-patron of Nutshell in Covent Garden, said: “As you can expect, we have already had quite few reservations that have been cancelled already. We’ve had customers who contacted us looking to move their reservations to Friday, which regretfully we couldn’t accommodate as we’re already at capacity at that time. This all came in just when we were starting to get busier and making enough revenue to enable us to support the few staff that we had kept from pre-lock-down period. To us, it seems unfair the government is scapegoating the hospitality industry for its shortcomings and own incompetence.” Kate Frobisher, owner of Urban Pantry in Chiswick, added: “As a brunch café, we’ve been largely unaffected by the curfew and other restrictions, meaning we, thankfully, have kept our whole team in employment but with the new tier two restrictions and people not being able to meet others from outside their household, I’m expecting to be operating at about 50% capacity, which is unsustainable and brings us back to the brink of the earlier lock-down.”


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