Pubs and restaurants across the UK are facing ‘catastrophe’ and ‘devastation’ after Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the public to avoid them as coronavirus runs rife across the country.
The government is today set to announce new support measures for businesses affected by the crisis, with the hospitality industry facing widespread closures and job losses without action.
Johnson yesterday said the UK is moving to a new social isolation stage of the current crisis, as the virus continues to spread and the death toll rises steeply.
However, the announcement was met with outrage in the sector, as government advice was to shun such businesses – yet stopped short of ordering them closed, which would have safeguarded many through insurance payouts.
UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls said: “This is catastrophic for businesses and jobs. The government has effectively shut the hospitality industry without any support, and this announcement will lead to thousands of businesses closing their doors for good, and hundreds of thousands of job losses.
“Over the past few weeks the industry has suffered unprecedented drops in visits and many businesses are already on their knees. This latest advice leaves the industry in limbo, with no recourse to insurance.
“The Government must act now to stop them going under and protect the people’s jobs. These venues play a unique role as community hubs and it’s in all our interests to protect and preserve them so they are still there once we emerge from this crisis.
“We need immediate and far-reaching support from the government, and meaningful business continuity measures.”
And Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “The severity of the Covid-19 crisis is now impacting on pubs with devastating effect. The very existence of thousands of pubs and a lot more jobs is now at risk.
“The government needs to give clear instructions and detail on the support package to rescue the sector and hundreds of thousands of jobs.
“Urgent measures to support cash flows and enable cost reductions is an absolute necessity. Government action now will save thousands of jobs and save our pubs.
“Support for pubs now is an investment in the long-term future of communities across the UK without it we risk losing our community assets forever.”