‘We’re pleased the PM has listened’: Pub bosses welcome no New Year ban in England – but say they have been hammered by festive no-shows and the hated ‘open/close’ strategy must NEVER return
- Hospitality venue owners have welcomed news of no new restrictions this year
- Bar owner Daniel Farrow, 26, said the news only saves one day of trade for him
- Venues have experienced up to 80% drops in their expected December footfall
- A night-time venue association said it was ‘pleased’ Boris Johnson had listened
Pub and restaurant owners have cautiously welcomed the Government’s announcement that no new restrictions will be implemented before New Year’s Eve.
The move gives beleaguered hospitality venues respite after a Christmas period which was dogged by cancellations due to fears over the Omicron variant of Covid.
Daniel Farrow, owner of the Gatherers bar and restaurant in Norwich, said that his business has seen 60% of bookings cancelled in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Mr Farrow, 26, said: ‘It’s really good news, that really helps people.
‘But you know, having a good New Year’s will just be one good day out of a whole month that should have been us trading at full capacity. In reality, we traded at 20%.
Daniel Farrow, owner of the Gatherers bar and restaurant (pictured) in Norwich, said that his business has seen 60% of bookings cancelled in the weeks leading up to Christmas
‘I can only hope that we have a good New Year’s Eve.
‘At this point in time we’re now at the end of December and I think the damage for sure has been done with the whole beginning of Omicron and then bringing semi-restrictions.’
Mr Farrow slammed the Government’s offer of a one-time £6000 grant for affected businesses, saying that amount only covered one day’s lost revenue from cancellations.
He said: ‘That might seem like a lot of money but in reality that’s a day’s take. So that covers a day’s loss.
‘When you’re dealing with 80% loss, that covers a day out of the whole month of losty trade.’
Michelle Utz, landlady of the Hoops pub in Essex, echoed the disappointment at the grant but was more cautious about the Government’s announcement.
Ms Utz, 41, said: ‘I was expecting worse, it’s better than like getting it at 10 o’clock last minute and [the Government] saying “you’re not open for New Year’s”.
Michelle Utz, landlady of the Hoops pub in Essex, echoed the disappointment at the grant but was more cautious about the Government’s announcement
‘I feel like people are still cautious and with the seven days isolation, we’re still losing customers and staff.
Ms Utz added that the Omicron variant was just one concern for her business at the moment.
She said: ‘The food cost has gone up. Wages have gone up. And then you have at the moment you have X amount of staff on and then people are cancelling last minute going “someone’s tested positive”.
‘We need to take £22,000 a week to break even and it’s just living on the edge at the minute.’
Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, reacted to the news there will be no new restrictions in England before NYE:
‘Following an extremely anxious few weeks for our sector, we are pleased that the Prime Minister has listened to us, and announced today that no further restrictions will be implemented before New Year.’
‘Our industry can now start to plan with some certainty over the next week, and make up for lost time promoting one of the key nights of the year in the coming days.’
Kate Nicholls, chair of the UKHospitality group, welcomed the news with a post on Twitter
Venues will be hoping for a bumper New Year’s Eve to recoup lost profits from the festive period
‘It is important that given this opportunity that we continue to recognise our responsibility to the public health strategy, and urge our customers to not only support us during this period but play their part in ensuring that this is the start of our recovery.’
‘We urge the Government in light of the challenges we have faced over the last month, that they work with us to generate a long term strategy for managing covid variants, it is clear that the open, close strategy, which has had a huge impact on our industry, is not sustainable.’
Kate Nicholls, chair of the UKHospitality group, said: ‘Really welcome news for hospitality businesses – losing New Year on top of December would have been devastating and keeping restrictions to a minimum helps protects businesses and jobs.’
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