HospoDemo: "Let's hope they listen, or we'll be back here again soon"

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Chefs Cettina Tumasella and Mamma Sara from pop-up restaurant La Mia Mamma at the HospoDemo protest
Chefs Cettina Tumasella and Mamma Sara from pop-up restaurant La Mia Mamma at the HospoDemo protest

Related tags Coronavirus lockdown London Restaurant Protest Jason atherton

The organiser of yesterday's (19 October) hospitality demonstration in Parliament Square against restrictions being imposed on businesses in the sector has vowed to return if the Government fails to act.

Addressing the 600-odd members of the hospitality trade that had attended the protest, organiser Rachel Harty - a long-standing industry marketer - said she hoped the demonstration had had an impact.

"Let's hope they listen to everything we need them to do, and things start to change for hospitality," she said.

"If nothing happens then we'll be back here again soon; we're not going to let this go."

Many of the HospoDemo protesters arrived dressed in uniform to represent their respective trades and equipped with protest signs that called on the Government to review its policies relating to hospitality venues, both in terms of restrictions and industry specific support.

They also carried an assortment of pots, pans, ladles, cocktail shakers, wooden spoons and other hospitality-related props, which were used to create an eruption of noise aimed at getting the attention of those inside the Houses of Parliament.

“To see so many from our industry come together on Parliament Square this morning was extremely powerful," said Harty following the protest. 

"We’ve been dealt some heavy blows over the past six months and we are looking at a bleak future if the Government does not revise its policies relating to the hospitality industry. Without enhanced financial support and additional government contributions to the Job Support Scheme we are going to see many businesses fall by the wayside.

“In 2020 the sector is expecting a £73bn drop in revenue and with 1.3 million employees still on the furlough scheme as of the beginning of this month, we’re looking at mass unemployment without more support. 

"We certainly made some noise, and we hope it has an impact.”

Many of London's leading chefs joined the protest including Yottam Ottolenghi; The Harwood Arms head chef Sally Abé; Jason Atherton; St John co-founder Fergus Henderson; Drake & Morgan CEO Jillian MacLean; Tom Aikens; and Rochelle Canteen owner Margot Henderson.

"For me, the industry either needs to be put into a complete lockdown with full Government support, or be allowed to continue operating with minimal restrictions in place," said Atherton to BigHospitality​ following the protest. 

"We know the new tier system isn't going to work; all it is doing is draining the life out of viable businesses. If Government refuses to change course then it's going to be a very bleak winter for everyone in the industry." 

The demonstration comes just days after the Government decided to raise London's Coronavirus alert level from 'medium' to 'high'​, which means households across London are now barred from mixing in any indoor setting including pubs, restaurants and bars.

The move was met with anger, despair and exhaustion from restaurateurs​, who saw consumer confidence plummet and bookings collapse as a result of the new restrictions.

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