Covid: “I have had 3200 covers cancelled at all my pubs.”

Image source, Nathalie Isaac

For December, 3200 covers were already cancelled across all four Ms Isaac restaurants

Pubs and restaurants are reporting a surge in cancellations of Christmas as the hospitality sector struggles to recover from new Covid curbs.

Bar 44, which operates four locations, said that 3,200 employees had cancelled December bookings.

Natalie Isaac, the operations director of the organization, stated that only “a handful” would have cancelled their flights before the pandemic.

Some others claim that, even though they don’t have to follow any new regulations, the public is more cautious and causes lower footfall as well as a decrease in trade.

Although the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), has asked for financial assistance from the government for affected businesses, the Treasury has yet to announce any additional measures.

People are afraid

Bar 44 in Bristol has several restaurants in Cardiff and Cardiff. They claim that 1000 of the lost bookings are due to cancellations by Tom Jones or the Stereophonics.

Ms Isaac said, “Keeping the doors open and not getting the business is what we worry about.”

The diary seems to be empty, even though this should be the bumper of two weeks before Christmas. Without furlough we aren’t able to provide protection for our employees. We are severely impacted.

Ms Isaac couldn’t give any figures for trade losses across the month as venues have not been operating at their pre-pandemic levels.

Due to staff shortages, they have been closing only five days per week.

“We are slightly replenishing with smaller groups, but people worry about going out again since they don’t want to catch Covid during the Christmas season.”

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CBI stated that hospitality companies and shops face a “double whammy”, with collapsing customer demand, and no financial aid from government Plan B. It was meant to combat the Omicron variant’s spread.

Tony Danker, CBI Director General, said that restrictions are “balanced”, however ministers need to clarify that they’re temporary.

According to him, “While we do have the necessary measures to preserve the economy’s openness,” he said to BBC.

These businesses were saved in 18 months. He said that they kept the businesses thriving.

We can’t afford to lose it now. He said that this was a significant cashflow loss.

We need to review cashflow support for those companies. It is impossible to pretend that the economy has not been closed when there have been legitimate reasons for reducing demand.

According to a Treasury spokesperson, the government “acted quickly” in order to stop the spread of the virus and “prevent economic and social restraints by permitting businesses to continue to operate”.

We want to continue protecting the NHS and jobs across the country. Our priority is to make sure everyone eligible receives their booster jabs quickly.

“Our £400bn Covid-19 support package will continue to help businesses into spring next year and we will continue to respond proportionately to the changing path of the virus, as we have done since the start of the pandemic,” the spokesperson added.

“Partial lockdown” without support

Clive Watson is the boss of City Pub Group and said that every type of booking has declined since Plan B was announced.

He explained that “in a nutshell the large corporate parties have started to be cancelled which were really profitable.”

These were partially compensated by small groups booking but they are now starting to cancel.

“What we are facing is a partial lockdown but no government assistance at this point.”

Watson acknowledged that it was worth the effort to keep the doors open. He also said the potential impact of a government financial aid cut would not be as significant.

Event management is a ‘next level’

Marc Hornby, founder of Caviar and Chips, says that corporate events are “next-to-none” as people review their Christmas plans.

Because of current restrictions, Birmingham’s country-wide catering company has been forced to shift its focus to wedding events in 2022 and 2023.

Hornby stated to the BBC that there has been a noticeable drop in business visits – 25% of what we would normally see.”

The government’s inability to realize the cost of cancelling events has caused the biggest problem.

The 18-month recruitment process was also difficult. However, Hornby explained that the team had prepared more events and foreseen new limitations.

One week before lockdown, the pub opened in Kenilworth by the group. The pub was closed during lockdown. It has since reopened but received very few corporate reservations.

Christmas trade ‘destroyed”

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said that Plan B restrictions had “destroyed” the crucial Christmas trading time for pubs.

She stated that “further restrictions like limits on groups sizes or even closing of pubs would be catastrophic.”

“Pubs will need every trade possible this Christmas in order to get through the winter.

They will require a complete financial package, which includes support for VAT and business rates, as well as a return on local authority grants.

“The Chancellor must come to our aid once again.”

A spokesperson from restaurants operator Mitchells & Butlers, which runs brands such as All Bar One, O’Neill’s, Harvester and Toby Carvery, said: “We are deeply disappointed by the announcement of Plan B and the knock-on effect this will have on our industry as we continue to try to rebuild our businesses during the pandemic.

We will comply with Plan B regulations. The Covid pass provisions will not affect our small businesses. Face masks are no longer required for our restaurants and pubs under the new guidelines.

We have no plans for any further restrictions, unless it is absolutely necessary.”


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