Bristol Hoteliers Say Furlough Isn’t Enough For Second Lockdown

Hoteliers in Bristol say the Government should do more to support them during the forthcoming second lockdown to help cover their essential running costs.

The Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA) says the extension of the furlough scheme – and the return to the Government paying 80 percent of wages – is very welcome.

But many businesses will still find the new lockdown – due to last until December 4 at least – very challenging because of ongoing costs that they have.

BHA Chair Raphael Herzog said: “Bristol hotels ran at around 50 percent occupancy in October, which was encouraging.

“But now we are being forced to close our hotels again and were comforted a little by the news about the furlough scheme, but this is the very least that the Government can do.

“We still have to retain staff to keep our buildings secure, to answer the phones and deal with enquiries, maintain the grounds and ensure that the hotels are regularly cleaned.

“We will have no revenue coming in, yet we have to pay for the staff and that’s not even thinking about all the other regular outgoings, like maintenance and building contracts, electricity, pumps for the pool and so on. The £3,000 a month grant is simply not enough to cover our costs.

“For businesses that are being forced to close, we feel that the Government should provide more funding to help with these essential costs in addition to paying 80% of the payroll, and businesses can top up the remaining 20% for.

“As things stand, this new lockdown is due to run until December 4 but there are already some reports suggesting it could be extended further.

“This uncertainty and lack of clarity makes it very difficult for us to plan ahead, so any further support that we can get from the Government will be a huge help towards giving our businesses a better chance of surviving.”

He added that the hospitality sector’s case for further support is strengthened even further because the industry is being targeted despite evidence suggesting that it is responsible for only a small percentage of traceable infections outside the home.

He said: “Public Health England statistics for week 44 showed that food outlets and restaurants accounted for just two percent of traceable infections.

“Schools and universities account for 22 percent – nearly a quarter – of traceable infections, yet we are being instructed to close and they are allowed to remain open.”

He added: “I expect around a dozen hotels will try to stay open to support people who need to travel for work.”

He urged people to follow the Government guidelines, no matter how inconvenient or difficult it might be, so that the lockdown restrictions can be eased as soon as possible.

He also referred to reports of around 700 people attending a rave last weekend just outside Bristol.

He said: “If people just acted sensibly and followed the ruled, like we do in our hotels, I am sure that the situation would not be as difficult as it is now.

“Sadly, some people – like those who attended the rave last weekend – just want to have fun but they don’t think about the devastating impact their irresponsible actions are having on the livelihood and lives of so many others.”