Commenting ahead of the economic impact of coronavirus Select Committee tomorrow afternoon, Paul Newman, head of hospitality and leisure at RSM, said: ‘The doors are open but with rumours that social distancing in hospitality venues could remain in place after 21 June, further government support will be needed to ensure that pubs are still in business to capitalise on the upcoming boost to trade that the Euros will offer the industry.
‘Businesses are desperate to operate at full capacity and will remain unprofitable until allowed to do so. An extension to business rate relief and the furlough scheme would give the hospitality sector an additional buffer until the social distancing measures are lifted.
‘Working from home is also rumoured to remain in place under plans being considered to revise the roadmap out of lockdown. City centre venues have been hit hardest by the lack of commuter footfall. With tightening restrictions on international travel decimating tourist numbers alongside variable Covid rates across the UK, the government needs to consider bringing in more flexible support measures for those venues in areas where footfall continues to be hit hardest.
‘The industry also needs urgent clarity on whether the government intends to extend the rent moratorium that stops businesses from being evicted from their premises from the end of June. The majority of tenants and landlords have already come together to agree plans to settle rent arrears, but further targeted support may now be required for those businesses that will be impacted by lingering social distancing restrictions.
‘In addition, the flood of overseas workers returning to the EU post Brexit alongside the impact of the vast swathes of hospitality workers who have sought a career change post Covid-19 is causing an acute shortage of staff. The government need to urgently consider relaxing visa barriers to allow businesses to capitalise on the demand from consumers who want to get back to enjoying real hospitality at their local pub or restaurant after months of lockdown.