Eight in 10 workers in the UK hospitality sector have been furloughed, according to a survey.
Research by the Office for National Statistics found that the sector, which covers hotels, restaurants and pubs, temporarily laid off the largest proportion of workers after the lockdown began.
On Monday April 20, the Treasury officially launched the coronavirus job retention scheme, which reimburses companies for up to 80% of the wages for employees who are furloughed rather than made redundant, up to a maximum of £2,500 (AUD$4841) a month.
By Thursday 435,000 businesses had applied for nearly £3.8bn worth of support to pay the wages of 3.2 million workers.
The ONS figures are based on a survey of 6,150 businesses, which revealed that together they had furloughed more than a quarter of their workforce.
With pubs hotels and restaurants unable to operate, it said 81% of businesses in accommodation and food/drink services had closed temporarily or have ceased to trade.
The hospitality industry yesterday warned that 1m jobs are at risk without further government support if social distancing measures continue beyond the end of the year.
The chief executive of trade body UKHospitality, Kate Nicholls, called for a plan of phased reopenings of hotels, bars, pubs and restaurants.
She also urged the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to extend the furlough scheme beyond its current endpoint of June.
“We need a plan of phased opening for our sector. For those businesses that can trade safely with social distancing measures still in place, they should be able to,” she said.
“For the many venues where it is not possible, support, such as the furlough scheme, must be extended to make sure these businesses stay alive and jobs kept open.”