Hospitality “One Of The Last Sectors To Open” After Lockdown, Says Michael Gove

Hospitality businesses will be “among the last” to reopen when the UK exists lockdown, according chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Minister Michael Gove, in a bid to prevent a second wave of the virus hitting Britons later this year.

When asked about what the country will look like when social distancing rules start to be lifted, Mr Gove told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday: ‘We have stressed that the reporting in today’s newspapers that schools will reopen on May 11, that is not true, we have not made that decision. ‘The other inference that I draw from your question, which is that areas of hospitality will be among the last to exit the lockdown – yes, that is true, they will be among the last.’

Following Gove’s comments, Frank Maguire from Truman’s brewery in London, told daily tabloid The Sun: “Things are looking pretty dire. At this rate it seems unlikely we will be open again before Christmas. Christmas is about as big as business gets for the pub industry. It will be a huge loss. January and February are dead months — without Christmas to carry us through, we will struggle. It will be a very glum start to 2021.”

In The Meantime hospitality businesses are calling for a non-government funded nine-month National Time Out on rent and debt payments to save the UK hospitality industry.

Milk & Honey owner Jonathan Downey called for a non-government funded nine-month National Time Out on rent and debt payments after the government ordered the closure of most on-trade premises to prevent the spread of COVID-19 last month, bringing the UK hospitality industry has come to a halt.

Despite the government support, Downey believes the UK needs a period of nine months rent free for pubs, bars and restaurants in order to prevent the permanent closure of thousands of venues all over the country.

Downey added: “I think the next best measure is a National Time Out where the next nine months until December 31 are rent free for any hospitality business. In order to make that work with landlords, we need to make sure they get a debt repayment break so that they’re not repaying any loans for nine months which they’ve taken out on properties that they’re not getting rent from.”

The campaign also calls for a debt repayment break for landlords so that they are not repaying any loans for nine months which they may have taken out on properties that they wouldn’t be getting rent from, under the proposed National Time Out initiative. To counteract this, those behind the campaign have suggested leases are extended by nine months so that the payments are postponed and not lost.