The government must stick to its roadmap and lift all restrictions on June 21st or risk further jeopardising the future of thousands of hospitality businesses and the jobs they provide, UKHospitality has warned.
The statement comes amid growing expectation restrictions will be extended for a further month in order to allow for more vaccinations to take place in the coming weeks.
The trade association however, argued any delay would be devastating for the sector and around 300,000 jobs would be put at risk – including those still on furlough.
Hospitality has been the hardest hit during the crisis, losing more than £87 billion in sales, leaving businesses deeply in debt and at risk of suffering “economic long Covid-19” if the right support is not forthcoming.
Even now, with partial reopening, sector sales remain down 42 per cent.
A one-month delay to restrictions lifting would cost the sector around £3 billion in sales – but would also have a knock-on impact on bookings throughout the summer and into the autumn.
Alongside the impact on revenue, businesses are now facing a jump in costs with business rates payments set to recommence and employer contributions to furlough kicking in.
UKHospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said: “The government has a balance to strike but due to the amazing efforts of the NHS in rolling out vaccines, it is time to lift the restrictions that are crushing businesses.
“A full and final ending of restrictions is the only way to ensure that businesses in this sector can trade profitably.
“If the government decides it has to keep some restrictions in place after June 21st, then it must prioritise those that do the least damage to business and commit to further supporting the sector.
“Confidence has been shaken so it is imperative that government postpones business rates payments until at least October and extend the rent and debt moratoria for hospitality businesses while a long-term solution to Covid arrears is found.”