Lockdowns cost on-trade 600,000 jobs

The UK hospitality sector has seen 600,000 jobs lost in the last year because of lockdown orders and thousands more are at risk if the nation reopens too late, trade body UK Hospitality has warned.

The UK first went into lockdown to stem the spread of Covid-19 on 23 March 2020

According to figures released by trade body UK Hospitality, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the on-trade has cost more than 600,000 jobs and the closure of more than 12,000 businesses.

In total, the sector has also witnessed an £86 billion (US$118bn) drop in sales as a result of lockdowns and stay-home orders.

Pubs, bars and restaurants in the UK are currently required to remain closed, except for home-delivered offerings, as the country undergoes its third lockdown in the past year.

Under the proposals for the easing of lockdown in England, bars and other licensed premises could open for outdoor service from 12 April if targets on vaccinations and Covid-19 cases are met.

However, UK Hospitality has warned ‘only a minority of pubs, bars, restaurants, hotels and leisure facilities’ will be able to offer outdoor service. The majority will instead be forced to wait until 17 May to potentially reopen for indoor drinking and dining.

The trade group said this delay could cause further job losses and business closures.

As such, UK Hospitality has proposed a greater easing of lockdown restrictions in England. Measures suggested include the reopening of hotels with self-contained rooms on 12 April, extended ordering options when venues reopen for outdoor and indoor service, and the option for patrons to consume drinks while standing outdoors.

Kate Nicholls, UK Hospitality chief executive, said: “The last 12 months have been truly awful for our sector. That is why any controls that limit commercial activity upon reopening should be necessary and proportionate, and we back the recent call from the Public Accounts Committee for the government to provide the evidence for such limits.

“While any restrictions remain in place, our pubs and restaurants can only break even and the viability of thousands remains at risk – we lost over 12,000 in the last year alone.

“Hospitality can lead economic recovery in the UK, providing jobs to people who have lost them and continuing to serve those most in need in communities all over the country. To do this however, we need to be able to operate without being strangled by restrictions.”

Sacha Lord, the night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, UK, is taking legal action against the UK government over its plans to reopen hospitality venues after non-essential retailers.

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