Hospitality industry responds to PM’s conditional plan to ease lockdown

The hospitality industry has reacted to the prime minister’s announcement last night that outlined a ‘conditional’ plan to ease lockdown with stores possibly reopening sometime in July.

Last night (10 May), Boris Johnson gave a prospective outline for a series of phased reopenings if certain conditions of a new “Covid alert system” are met. The new system will be put in place in England to track the virus and will use a scale of one to five with the alert level determined primarily by the ‘R number’ and the number of coronavirus cases.

The government is set to provide more detailed guidance later today when the PM will speak in parliament.

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Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality, said that the PM gave the industry a “sense of the shape of his plan”.

She said: “Mr Johnson was explicit about his commitment to support those workers whose businesses are not able to return soon, and we remain committed to continuing our dialogue with the Government to achieve that. We have been calling for a more flexible, extended furlough system and today’s statement appears to leave the door open for that.

“UKHospitality has already been working up protocols for implementation in different parts of the sector, to allow venues to confidently open their doors when it is safe to do so. This is very much consistent with the approach of ‘Covid secure’ standards that the Prime Minister referenced.”

She added: “He recognised in his statement that some parts of business will be able to open and others won’t – we will work to ensure that the Government is well-placed to support those in hospitality that need longer, as well as on enabling those who are able to return.”

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, the director general of the CBI, added that the plan offers the “first glimmer of light” for the economy.

She said: “This announcement marks the start of a long process. While stopping work was necessarily fast and immediate, restarting will be slower and more complex. It must go hand-in-hand with plans for schools, transport, testing and access to PPE. Firms will want to see a roadmap, with dates they can plan for.

“Success will rest on flexibility within a framework: clear guidance which firms can adapt for their particular circumstances. Financial support will also need to evolve for sectors moving at different speeds – some remaining in hibernation, while others get ready to open safely.”

She added: “The coming weeks should see business, government and employee representatives working together as part of a national effort built on openness and trust. This is the only way to revive the UK economy and protect both lives and livelihoods.”

It also comes as the The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said that its hope for clarity on reopening and extra support for pubs has been “dashed” by Boris Johnson’s announcement.

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