Published 23 March 2021
by Lisa Markwell and Harriet Prior
The past year has both flown by and felt like the longest 12 months ever. Today marks the anniversary of when the first coronavirus lockdown was announced, as the Prime Minister ordered that we must all stay at home. Without warning, pubs, bars, restaurants, and hotels were forced to shut, and any sense of normality disappeared overnight.
As employees across the country began to adapt to working from home, it wasn’t as easy for those in hospitality. However, operators pushed on and worked hard to find new solutions and pivot their offering. The rise and rise of at-home kits began, as well as many new pop-ups, delivery only and dark kitchens.
Restrictions eased at the end of June, and we were able to enjoy a short stint back in restaurants. The Eat Out to Help Out scheme was later introduced in August, followed by a 10pm curfew in September. Then, a three-tier system in December meant varying restrictions across the country. England entered a third national lockdown in January. The constant back and forth often forced hospitality businesses to close with less than 24 hours’ notice.
Coupled with a lack of targeted or meaningful governmental support and uncertainty of how to survive the year ahead, many businesses sadly closed for good. A campaign for a dedicated minister for hospitality went unheeded, despite the huge scale of the industry, one of Britain’s biggest employers.
But there were some success stories, and new businesses have emerged which we hope are here to stay. Many hospitality figures and businesses showcased just how creative, generous, and incredible the industry is. At CODE, we want to champion those who helped us and others through a difficult time, so we published our list of Lockdown Heroes last September. We continue to work hard to keep our audience informed through our editorial content, and the CODE app has a growing collection of offers on at-home kits and produce.
An industry designed to bring people together, we’re now just three weeks away from hospitality opening outdoors. Indoor dining will resume a month later, hopefully for the final time.
There are still tough times ahead for our beloved hospitality industry as the furlough scheme comes to an end and landlords come for deferred or overdue rents. But one year on, it’s a good time to reflect on the past 12 months and the lessons we’ve learnt along the way. We hope that the industry’s brilliance and ability to adapt is now clear to all. We’ve certainly never doubted it.