'Freedom Day' delay set to cost hospitality £3bn and put 300,000 jobs at risk

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

'Freedom Day' delay set to cost hospitality £3bn and put 300,000 jobs at risk

Related tags Freedom Day Coronavirus lockdown Social Distancing

A delay to the final stage of the Government's roadmap out of lockdown will have a 'devastating' impact on the hospitality sector, UKHospitality has warned.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce later today (14 June) that so-called 'Freedom Day' plans to drop all legal restrictions on social contact in England will no longer go ahead on 21 June as hoped, and will instead be pushed back by four weeks.

It will mean that hospitality businesses will have to continue following social distancing restrictions and operate table service only until at least Monday 19 July. 

UKHospitality has urged the Government stick to its roadmap and lift all restrictions next week, or risk further jeopardising the future of thousands of hospitality businesses and the jobs they provide.

According to the trade body, a one-month delay will cost the sector around £3bn in sales and put approximately 300,000 jobs at risk – including those still on furlough.

It adds that alongside the impact on revenue, businesses are facing a jump in costs with business rates payments set to recommence and employer contributions to furlough kicking in.

“The Government has a balance to strike but due to the amazing efforts of the NHS in rolling out vaccines, it is time to lift the restrictions that are crushing businesses," says Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality.

“A full and final ending of restrictions is the only way to ensure that businesses in this sector can trade profitably. If Government decides it has to keep some restrictions in place after 21 June, then it must prioritise those that do the least damage to business and commit to further supporting the sector.

"Confidence has been shaken so it is imperative that Government postpones business rates payments until at least October and extend the rent and debt moratoria for hospitality businesses while a long-term solution to Covid arrears is found.

“Businesses need a swift, publicly-stated commitment that such support will be in place in the event of any delays, giving them much-needed reassurance after more than 15 months of closure and severely disrupted trading.

"Hospitality is desperate to get back to what it does best and can play a key role in the economic recovery of the UK - but only if it is given permission to trade and proper support.”

The Prime Minister is set to confirm the Government's plans with regards to 21 June at press conference this evening at 6pm.

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