Fears for future of hospitality firms unless Covid restrictions lifted sooner

Fears have been raised that more hospitality businesses could be forced to close for good if they are not allowed to reopen as 'normal' until July.

The Stokesay Inn & B&B in Craven Arms is among many businesses facing pressure
The Stokesay Inn & B&B in Craven Arms is among many businesses facing pressure

It comes as reports suggest the Government's roadmap out of lockdown could see traders having to wait until at least Easter for a limited restart and July before the industry is allowed to return to normal – but with social distancing.

People working in the industry in the county fear many businesses will not be able to survive unless restrictions are eased at a quicker rate.

Ahead of Monday's announcement about the easing of restrictions, reports suggest curbs on pubs, restaurants and hotels will be eased at four-weekly intervals.

Pubs, bars and restaurants could have to wait until early May under the plans, with a maximum of two households allowed to sit together indoors and the rule of six applying outside.

The next stage, in early June, could see the rules for pubs and restaurants relaxed with the rule of six extended indoors.

James Smallman, of The Stokesay Inn & B&B in Craven Arms, said: "We understand that this has been a very difficult time for many businesses in this field, but if we have to wait until July for us to trade normally again would cause a substantial financial issue for us and many pubs in the country.

"More pubs are going to suffer and end up closing if they approach reopening like this.

Philip Taylor, owner of Latte da coffee shop, and his partner Angela Mills with Phil Spencer

"We think that opening the pubs on a four-weekly staggered programme is not the right way to do this, we should be allowed to reopen from Easter, yes possibly with the rule of six for indoors, but I don’t think this is needed for outdoors.

"As for keeping dining rooms closed - that would be outrageous, a lot of pubs rely on there food side of the business to keep them going and encourage people in."

Financial support has been made available to businesses affected by Covid restrictions.

But Mr Smallman added: "The grants that are available are not enough to cover bills and what support are they going to give if they keep us closed?

Latte da coffee shop in Albrighton

"The Government seem to be making it harder for this industry to survive, for new business and old ones. We don’t have a pot of money, we don’t have any other form of income, we solely rely on the support from guests, drinkers, eaters that enter our building on a daily basis."

Philip Taylor, owner of Latte da coffee shop in Albrighton, said: “With any roadmap the Government sets out, hospitality will always be last in line to reopen, and this has to be taken into account when they dish out financial support for those businesses affected.

"This means ensuring the furlough scheme remains in place and other assistance can be looked at.

"For many firms in hospitality it will take some time for businesses to return to a trading level that is acceptable.

"If the roadmap means we open later, but with less restrictions, I feel that it could be better for everyone in the long run – as long as that Government support is in place.”

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