Friday Five: the week's top news

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Friday Five: the week's top news

Related tags Hospitality

This week's main hospitality news stories include fears of fresh Coronavirus restrictions, changes to business rates in the Autumn Budget, and La Tasca leaving the UK highstreet after 28 years.

Hospitality leaders have warned that the use of 'Plan B' measures to curb the rise in Coronavirus cases could 'decimate' the sector​. Amid a surge in Covid infections, there have been mounting calls for the Government to implement its contingency plan, which would see the introduction of mandatory Covid vaccine certificates (commonly referred to as 'vaccine passports') for nightclubs and other crowded indoor venues; compulsory face masks across most indoor settings; and advice for people to work from home if they can. However, the sector has warned that the introduction of tougher 'Plan B' measures could risk a ‘second lost Christmas’. Phil Urban, chief executive of Mitchells & Butlers, told The Guardian​ that ministers had left it too late to address rising case numbers and that any action now could devastate the industry. “People are very nervous and if you move to plan B, it puts Christmas at risk,” he said. “The industry is not out of the woods and just as we get our momentum back, we’d have the rug pulled out from under us.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has set out his plan to 'ease the burden' of business rates​ in a Budget that promised more frequent revaluations and a one-year discount for the hospitality sector. Speaking in the House of Commons earlier this week, the Chancellor said his latest Budget would not draw a line under Covid, but does begin the work of building an economy post-pandemic. As well as changes to the business rates system, the Chancellor also announced reforms to alcohol duty. However, in a blow to the sector he failed to offer any further VAT relief, meaning it will return to its pre-pandemic level of 20% in April 2022. Much of the hospitality trade broadly welcomed​ the Budget announcement, but expressed disappointment at the Chancellor's decision not to permanently lock in a lower rate of VAT for the sector. Meanwhile, the one-year business rates discount has been described as 'a sticking plaster'​ that 'will not help the bigger firms'.

- Restaurant brand La Tasca has closed its last remaining restaurant​, bringing to an end its presence on the UK highstreet 28 years after it first launched. Spanish Restaurant Group has closed the Liverpool site following its acquisition of the La Tasca brand early last year, and will relaunch it next month under its growing Tapas Revolution chain. It will bring Tapas Revolution's estate to 10 sites in total, with other locations including Lakeside, Westfield, Sheffield, Brighton and Bath. Fronted by chef Omar Allibhoy, Tapas Revolution serves a menu of Spanish tapas, large sharing plates, sangria and cocktails.

- Chef Ferdinand ‘Budgie’ Montoya is to launch a new restaurant concept under his Filipino barbecue and lechon brand Sarap at rotating pop-restaurant 10 Heddon Street​ in London’s Mayfair next month. Sarap Filipino Bistro is described as 'the latest evolution' of Montoya’s Sarap brand and follows the success of its more casual Brixton sister site Sarap BAon, which launched last year. The Heddon Street residency will last for up to a year, and is intended to be used by Montoya as a launch pad to establish a permanent central London site for the Filipino Bistro concept, in partnership with The Pepper Collective.

- Simon Martin's Manchester restaurant Mana, The Forest Side in Cumbria, and Tuddenham Mill in Suffolk all received four AA Rosettes at a virtual ceremony this week. The latest announcement by the AA​ also saw 16 restaurants awarded three rosettes including several notable London restaurants such as Mexican chef Santiago Lastra’s Kol in London's Marylebone; Anna Haugh's Irish influenced Myrtle in Chelsea; The Grill at The Dorchester, which is led by Tom Booton; and gastropub The Princess of Shoreditch, where Ruth Hansom has been based since last year. Outside of London, new Glaswegian dining destination Unalome by Graeme Cheevers also recieved three rosettes; as did French bistro L’Ortolan in Shinfield, Berkshire.

Check below for more of this week's headlines, or click here​.

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