Twenty-four little hours… the title and first few lyrics of this well-known song could have been the sound track for this strange, whirlwind of a week we’ve all just gone through.
I’m penning this on Saturday morning and when I look back on what’s happened since Monday, I feel this weird mixture of being confused, sad, proud, relief and emotionally and physically exhausted. Like so many people in our amazing industry, overnight our business ground to a halt. Everything stopped. It fell off a cliff.
On Friday evening Rishi Sunak announced that the government would pay 80% of salaries for staff who are kept on by their employer (but they must be furloughed – essentially not working) and this relief has hopefully saved hundreds of thousands, if not millions of jobs across the industry.
While we’ve started to get to grips with all of this and what’s it going to mean for our own businesses and our community for the next three months, we’ve seen how when faced with adversity it can bring out the best in people. We’ve been inundated at CODE with emails from restaurants about what they’re doing for the vulnerable in our society, hospitality staff who’ve lost their jobs and NHS workers. It’s heart-warming.
I take great energy from this as there were times this week when it would have been all too easy to give up, turn off the lights, shut the door and throw the keys away. There’s something so reassuring about being part of a community that, by the nature of the business, is made up by grafters, people who keep going when it gets tough and think about others first.
While we all start to adapt to this new way of life for the foreseeable future and keep ourselves to some sort of daily routine, this week I’ve realised more than ever the importance of communication. Every day at CODE, we’ve been doing a daily video call as a team to chat through what we’re doing today, run through the latest updates from what’s happening in the industry so we can be agile editorially and debrief on the major announcements from the day before that can affect hospitality. Some of the team have even taken to putting different restaurant interiors as the backdrop of their video profile each day – a lighthearted way to start the day by trying to work out which restaurant they’re virtually sitting in.
As of Friday night, all restaurants are now closed across the UK. As an industry our job is to look after people, make them feel happy and special. And this is done face-to-face. Lots of you will be waking up this weekend, staying at home and not being able to have that interaction with colleagues and guests. We’ve been told to physically distance ourselves to make sure we knock this pandemic on its head but the question for our industry, and society, right now is how do we stay socially close?
During these times, we’ve put together a list of resources for both businesses and hospitality professionals to help support our members and community