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Thu 9th Sep 2021 - Vaccine passports for nightclubs may be ditched after fierce Tory backlash
Vaccine passports for nightclubs may be ditched after fierce Tory backlash: Ministers are having second thoughts on plans to introduce mandatory covid passports for nightclubs and other “high-risk” venues after Tory MPs tore into the proposals in the Commons. Serious doubts have emerged over the policy, with officials now looking at whether case rates will require such measures. A Whitehall source told i news that “no decisions have been made yet” on the proposals, despite the government insisting that the passes will be mandatory from the end of the month. The source added that the government was “watching the data and seeing what’s needed”, adding that it was up in the air as to whether the measures will be introduced. It is understood, however, that infection rates would need to fall significantly for the government to change its stance. A Tory former minister told i they also suspected vaccine passports could be ditched, adding that Boris Johnson “hates the idea” and was just threatening their introduction to encourage young people to get jabbed. It comes after the vaccines minister sparked a furious response from his own backbenchers when he said the government was pressing on with the policy even though it “goes against everything I believe in”. Nadhim Zahawi said the passports were necessary to avoid the disruption nightclubs would otherwise face, adding: “It is not something…we do lightly, it is something to allow us to transition this virus from pandemic to endemic status.” Tory MPs lined up to attack the plans in the Commons, with former chief whip Mark Harper demanding the government drop the proposals. “I’m afraid the minister is picking an unnecessary fight with his own colleagues,” he said. “I say to him: the government should think again.” Harper highlighted Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg’s point that there was no need for vaccine passports for MPs to attend the chamber. He added: “Let’s not have one rule for Members of Parliament and another rule for everybody else.” Senior backbencher William Wragg branded the policy a “load of rubbish”, adding: “This is a needless fight that we seem prepared to have.” Zahawi also raised concerns when he refused to commit the government to holding a vote on the policy, promising instead to give MPs “appropriate scrutiny” of it. A separate cabinet source said the government’s position remained unchanged, adding: “We are still working through the details and criteria of how it would apply.”

16 of 62 new companies being added to updated Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book turning over in excess of £25m: Sixteen of the 62 companies being added to the updated Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, are turning over more than £25m. The next edition of the Blue Book, which will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (10 September) shows the 62 companies are turning over £1.6bn. The Blue Book will now feature 408 UK pub, restaurant, cafe and hotel operators with a total turnover of £30.7bn. The Blue Book has begun to reflect the economic damage of the pandemic with 200 companies reporting a profit and 204 reporting losses. The Blue Book, which is updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers also receive two other databases – the New Openings Database, produced in association with StarStock, and the Multi-site Operators Database, produced in association with Virgate, which are also updated each month. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel insights editor Mark Wingett. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The regular single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to sign up.

Gordon Ramsay in expansion mode despite £5.1m pandemic loss: Gordon Ramsay Restaurants has reported a £5.1m loss for the year ended 31 August 2020 compared to a profit of £15.2m the year before when the UK business sold the global licensing rights. The company was also helped by a £3,215,000 Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant. Turnover dropped from £54,739,000 in 2019 to £34,512,000. The company stated: “Despite the global uncertainty caused by the covid-19 pandemic, the group remains committed and on course in its growth strategy. In the casual dining category, the group has accelerated the roll-out of its Street Pizza and Street Burger concepts. New Street Pizza restaurants opened in Southwark (December 2020) and Battersea Power Station (April 2021). The first Street Burger restaurant opened in December 2020 in the One New Change development in the City of London. (April 2021). New Street Burger restaurants have also opened in Woking and Charing Cross Road, London (April 2021) and more recently at Kensington High Street, Covent Garden and 02 Arena. In the Premium Casual category, The Bread Street brand will see new restaurants opened in the City of London, Edinburgh and Battersea Power Station, whilst Union Street Cafe in Southwark has re-opened in the Bread Street Kitchen format. The first Bread Street cafe, located in Ealing, West London opened in August 2021 and there are advanced plans to expand Bread Street more widely in the UK. The group will continue it growth in the Super Premium category with the opening of a new seafood restaurant at the Savoy, The River Restaurant by Gordon Ramsay, due to open in September 2021. The inaugural Gordon Ramsay Academy will open in Woking in September 2021. The directors view this as a scaleable asset both in the UK and internationally – and are planning to take the Academy to America and Asia. In December 2020, Gordon Ramsay Burger opened in Harrods under a licensing agreement and internationally – new licensed restaurants will be opening in Saudi Arabia and Macau. The new Street Burger and Street Pizza concepts have been shown to be scalable and can now form a significant part of the international franchising business.” The company’s adjusted Ebitda showed a loss of £1m in the year compared to a profit of £6.6m the year before. The company reported that since re-opening of indoor dining on 17 May it has ‘traded well and profitably’. “Sales are now close or in-line with pre-pandemic trading,” it stated.

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