Extended social distancing could see a million hospitality jobs put at risk, government warned

An extended period of social distancing measures could cost a million jobs in the hospitality industry unless measures to protect businesses are put in place, the government has been warned.

UKHospitality said pubs and other businesses would not be able to operate profitably if social distancing had to be observed.

After a warning by chief medical adviser Professor Chris Whitty that social distancing measures could last beyond 2020, UKHospitality has written to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, recommending a plan to help the country’s hospitality businesses reopen following the crisis and save jobs and businesses.

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The letter stressed the need for a phased approach to avoid a “yo-yo effect” of openings and closings which could see businesses fail and up to a million jobs lost.

The six-point plan sets out the level of support the sector needs to reintegrate into the economy, to avoid mass redundancies and to ensure local businesses and high-street brands can survive.

Recommendations included extending the government’s furlough scheme beyond the end of June for hospitality businesses, legislative intervention on rent payments, improved access to capital and an overhaul of business regulation.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “With social distancing measures still in place, reopening the hospitality sector without a plan would be catastrophic.

“The hospitality sector was one of the first hit by the crisis and the hardest hit in terms of lost revenue. It will also be one of the last to fully emerge from the lockdown.

“An extended period of social distancing will mean that many hospitality businesses will not be able to operate fully, and many will not be able to open at all. Hospitality is a sector built around socialising, so there must be Government support for businesses that continue to be hit by this crisis.

Brighton’s boarded up Ginger Dog pub is covered in supportive messages for the NHS (Getty)

“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.

“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. We can’t have a situation where, overnight, the entire sector is suddenly expected to hit the ground running.

“If the correct support is not in made available to help businesses get back to work when the time is right, then businesses will have survived the immediate crisis only to find themselves out of business during the aftermath.”

This content was originally published here.