Hospitality Industry To Stage Protest In Parliament Square Over Government’s Covid Restrictions

At 10.30am on Monday 19th October, members of the hospitality industry will converge on Parliament Square to urge the government to revise its policies relating to hospitality venues, both in terms of restrictions and industry-specific support. Hospitality is the UK’s third largest industry and accounts for 10% of all employment, not to mention thousands of ancillary businesses whose survival depends on outlets staying open.

HospoDemo protestors from all corners of the industry will come together to represent their trades, dressed in uniform, equipped with pots, pans, ladles, cocktail shakers, wooden spoons and other hospitality-related props, with which to make themselves heard. Expected attendees include Jason Atherton, Tom Aikens and Jillian MacLean. All attendees have been advised to adhere to social distancing measures and, of course, to come wearing a face covering.

HospoDemo has been organised by long-standing industry marketer, Rachel Harty. Commenting on the initiative, she said: “The blows that have been dealt to the UK hospitality industry over the last six months have caused a great deal of frustration and hardship. Hospitality outlets have responded by investing heavily in safety measures to enable staff to return to work, and to encourage customers back through the door. However, the recent 10pm curfew and increasing local lockdowns have created an existential threat to a large proportion of hospitality businesses. The sector has already lost 25,000 premises since March[1], and it’s time for strong government action to prevent the loss of more businesses and jobs and protect a sector that is part of the fabric of this country.”

Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive at UKHospitality, said: “It’s no surprise to us that our colleagues from the beleaguered hospitality industry wish to express themselves in this way and we stand shoulder to shoulder in support of them.

“Businesses are feeling the cumulative impact of all the restrictions placed on them, and have really suffered since the introduction of the curfew, which has had a severe and devastating impact. Now with the introduction of the tiers system, we are reaching the point of no return for many.  Many are trading unsustainably and at a fraction of their pre-Covid levels.

“Without enhanced financial support that really recognises this situation, and without additional Government contributions to the Job Support Scheme, many businesses and jobs are going to fall by the wayside. It is time for the Government, at the very least, to rethink the mandatory 10pm curfew on those areas where COVID rates are low and to come forward with credible and far-reaching financial support for hospitality.  The curfew was imposed without credible evidence and restrictions that limit a company’s ability to endure this crisis must come with support.”

[1] CGA, Alix Partners, Market Recovery Monitor, 9th October 2020