Prolonged Lockdowns Could Lead To 30,000 Hospitality Closures Warns Trade Body

As many as 30,000 pubs, bars and restaurants will close if ministers do not stick to the roadmap out of lockdown, UKhospitality has warned, adding that thousands of businesses are ‘clinging on with their fingertips’ and could soon tumble into insolvency.

Premises are now closing at a faster rate than in 2020, with 42 shutting their doors every day in 2021, up from 30 a day last year, according to data from UKHospitality.

Almost 12,000 licensed premises closed permanently between December 2019 and February 2021.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, addressing the Confederation of British Industry, said: “For many businesses, they are clinging on with their fingertips. You are looking at potentially 20,000 to 30,000 sites closing.” She added a third of hospitality venues did not open last summer because they were unable to comply with strict social distancing and tier restrictions.

Industry leaders have repeatedly demanded the acceleration out of lockdown for the hospitality and licensed on trade. Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin hit out at last week what he calls the government’s “weekly barmy ideas “.

Like kings of old, Boris and the “quad” are bypassing Parliament, he said with tacit approval from the evanescent opposition, and are foisting “oven-ready” idiocies on the public. Pubs are pawns in the game and kowtowing to the latest headline-grabbing initiative doesn’t pay.

Sacha Lord, Manchester’s night time economy tsar, who is leading a legal challenge to the roadmap, said: ‘We can see clear opportunities for an acceleration of reopening plans given the current case numbers and vaccination progress.’

Miss Nicholls added: ‘This new obligation puts an unfair and potentially unworkable burden on operators and risks conflict with customers.’