Why hospitality businesses badly need support through coronavirus crisis

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There’s been outrage from the UK’s hospitality industry following the Prime Minister’s statement during his press conference on Monday afternoon.

The hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors have already taken a massive hit this last few weeks, what with events being postponed, cancellations, and even people losing their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday afternoon, Boris Johnson urged all people to specifically avoid pubs, clubs and theatres and stop non-essential travel in an effort to reduce the impact of the coronavirus.

Some operators feel that Boris’ statement is some sneaky strategy to avoid business insurance claims that would otherwise be charged to the government.

“One early implication of today’s statement is uproar in the hospitality world,” said Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham.

“By telling people to avoid restaurants and bars, rather than asking them to shut, it’s feared businesses will be denied insurance. Unfair and sets a terrible precedent. Urgent clarification needed.”

According to STEAM figures, the hospitality industry is supposed to be worth a cool £73bn to the UK economy. The booming sector boasts over 3m jobs and supports millions more.

Tourism generates £2.5bn to the economy of Greater Manchester directly through food and drink service. And with the largest increase in the number of places to eat and drink in comparison to other major cities in the UK, not to mention finally a Michelin Star, Manchester has become a bit of a destination for gastronomic adventurers.

Northern Restaurant & Bar Show, a hugely successful trade exhibition which has championed and persevered with northern hospitality operators through both the good times and the bad for 20 years, has just announced that they are postponing the upcoming 2020 event until further notice.

“The escalating situation regarding COVID-19 means that regretfully there is no option but to postpone NRB20,” said CEO, Thom Hetherington.

“We are in discussion with our venue, Manchester Central, and will announce new dates to our visitors, exhibitors, sponsors and partners imminently.

“These are incredibly challenging times for the region’s hospitality industry, and NRB has been a part of it, through good times and bad, for twenty years. We exist to inform, support and inspire the North’s leading operators, so feel a responsibility that our next edition of NRB will be our most vital yet. We will not let the industry down.

“Right now, our thoughts are with you and your teams, and all of those working within the hospitality industry, We all stand together in these incredibly uncertain and challenging times.”

There is still hope for the hospitality sector if it can “come together” and “fight together…”

Manchester’s Night Time Economy Adviser, Sacha Lord, is urging all hospitality venues to “organise and prepare takeaway and delivery facilities” as one of his recommended measures to help hospitality businesses adapt to this ever changing situation.

“First and foremost, I am overwhelmingly disappointed with the measures today,” said Sacha. “Greater Manchester’s bars, clubs, restaurants and nightlife are the heart of our region and I know how devastating this latest news will be to all owners.

“The uncertainty this measure has placed on the hospitality sector is likely to be crippling and I know most, if not all, operators will currently be feeling scared for their futures. The move to advise customers to avoid pubs and clubs, rather than implementing an outright closure, combined with no end date, will affect the rights that venue owners have with regards to insurance claims.

“I am in touch with my equivalent Night Economy Advisers across the world and we are one of the only countries not to provide a specific timeframe.

“With this in mind, I will be actively talking to Government to try to ensure businesses are able to protect themselves and survive through these trying times, including being able to claim on business interruption insurance.

“I know this will be imperative for some operators, and I want you to know I am and will continue to fight hard to support you. You are not alone.”

The nightlife tsar recommends the following measures to all restaurants, bars, cafes and hospitality venues across Greater Manchester:

  1. Organise and prepare takeaway and delivery facilities if possible, and to announce these services across your social channels;
  2. For bookings cancellations, offer the choice to postpone or purchase gift cards instead;
  3. Do not stop talking. Keep planning and keep taking bookings for later this year. Ask customers if they would be willing to pay up front in return for discounts.

Sacha Lord concluded his statement with some words of encouragement: “Greater Manchester, we will get through this, but we must come together and fight together. We will recover, but we must be strong and keep faith.”

The UK’s hospitality industry is urging you sign a petition calling to the Government to support UK’s hospitality industry through the Coronavirus crisis and show some transparency on a timeline so they can prepare logistically and rationally for times ahead.

Sign the petition

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