Published 23 February 2021
by Adam Hyman
So, there we have it. Subject to the data, we now have some dates to work towards as an industry, with outdoor hospitality permitted from no earlier than 12 April and indoor from no-earlier than mid-May. The leaks to the press set us all up to expect this, but it doesn’t make it any easier to stomach especially as a large chunk of hospitality businesses have been shuttered well before Christmas.
Some positives include the pathetic substantial-meal rule having been scrapped – and the ludicrous 10pm curfew has also been put to bed too. Both of these did nothing for our industry apart from cause substantial food waste and put everyone out on the streets and public transport at the same time.
With outdoor hospitality permitted from 12 April, city-centre restaurants, bars and pubs up and down the country are no doubt speaking to their local councils and finding ways to get creative with what outside space they have. Fingers crossed the April showers stay away, but many will have to wait for 17 May, as the economics of having a small outdoor area simply won’t work when it comes to the number of covers versus the costs of ‘opening’ a restaurant.
Once again it does feel that hospitality has been unfairly treated as an industry. The most vulnerable have been vaccinated and yet the economy and society remain shuttered for months to come. Hotelier and Seat At The Table founder Robin Hutson took to Twitter saying, “Just the one question @BorisJohnson, you talk about data not dates, so will you show us the data that demonstrates its safer to open non-essential retail rather than hospitality?”
All eyes will now be on Rishi Sunak’s budget next week because unless – at a minimum – the Government commit to an extension of a freeze on business rates, VAT remains at 5% for hospitality and they continue furlough into summer there isn’t going to be a hospitality industry to reopen in May.