Operators predict painful and protracted post-lockdown recovery

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Restaurant and pub operators predict painful and protracted post lockdown Coronavirus recovery UKHospitality 4July

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Hospitality businesses are expecting levels of trade to be 'significantly suppressed' in the months to come according to a new survey carried out by trade body UKHospitality.

The findings paint a gloomy picture of low expectations following the Government-mandated lockdown of the hospitality sector, with respondents predicting a 'lengthy and painful recovery'.

UKHospitality says the research underlines the need for businesses in the sector to be allowed to trade again as soon as possible, and, having mooted it since May, is calling on the Government to urgently confirm 4 July as the date the hospitality sector can reopen.

It is also asking for the Government to make renewed commitments to offer the sector more targeted support - such as a cut in tourism VAT and Air Passenger Duty, support for missed rent payments during closure, and the creation of an autumn Bank Holiday - in order to prevent widespread business failure and further job losses.

Overall, hospitality businesses overwhelmingly expect a 'very slow recovery' in the second half of 2020 according to the survey, with a ‘worst-case scenario’ in December of trade at around a third of the previous year’s level if the two-metre rule remained in place.

Even if social distancing is reduced to one metre, trade is only expected to be at just over half the level compared to the year before.

The shorter-term outlook is equally downbeat, with expectations for August 2020 showing a decline of between 78% and 65% in revenue, depending on the level of social distancing required in venues.

“This bleak outlook from operators should sound the alarm with governments across the UK," says UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls.

"First things first, we urgently need confirmation of the reopening date for hospitality without further delay. Businesses need time to prepare and the first step on the road to recovery is confirmation of when they can open their doors again. Those who rely on advance bookings, such as hotels, leisure parks and attractions need answers now.

“For most venues, operating with the two-metre social distancing rule is financially unviable, so if the current review on social distancing recommends it is safe to do so, we would urge the Government to adopt the internationally-recognised standard of one metre.

"Such a reduction would be a huge boost for the sector and prove critical to the survival of the vast majority of businesses."

According to various reports over the weekend, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to confirm 4 July as the official opening date for hospitality businesses tomorrow (23 June).

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