Omicron, mixed messages and the effect on hospitality

“In my opinion, the Government are very clever in what they have said. Telling people to be cautious and not go out but actually not imposing any restrictions means we cannot claim any financial assistance.”

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In the week before Christmas, the hospitality industry was offered help, due to cancellations and dwindling footfall:

The financial support that’s been announced for businesses in England | devonlive.com

However, business leaders were not happy that ‘mixed messages’ about socialising meant people were avoiding hotels, restaurants and pubs:

‘Mixed messages’ on socialising lead to mass cancellations of hotel room bookings, as industry says impact of Omicron could be devastating | thisismoney.co.uk

Including in the South West:

Susie Colley, chair of Torquay Chamber of Commerce, said restrictions were vital to halt the spread of the virus and protect the NHS from being overwhelmed. But she said businesses hit by the pre-Christmas drop in trade would need help to survive. “To keep us all alive, I think we have to see more restrictions. If it impacts on retail and hospitality, we are going to have to ask Rishi Sunak to put grants in places to help. It is a horrendous situation we are in, but I think the government again should now bring back more grant support for those businesses.”

Urgent plea to save Devon pubs and restaurants amid Omicron fears | devonlive.com

Exeter business leader says Omicron is ‘devastating’ | bbc.co.uk

And in the week before New Year, business leaders in the West Country are ‘very annoyed’:

The Hartnoll Hotel in Tiverton has seen 80 per cent of its bookings cancelled, with customers demanding refunds. Shane Naylor, general manager said they were ‘very annoyed’, adding: “In my opinion, the Government are very clever in what they have said. Telling people to be cautious and not go out but actually not imposing any restrictions means we cannot claim any financial assistance.”

“£6,000 will not go very far. I have a monthly wage budget of £70k at the moment we are not even breaking even we are now losing money. Because the Prime Minister cannot make his mind up and give clear guidance, we are not even sure if we should order the food in for New Year, so we have a choice order the food, and if restrictions come into place, we end up losing the money or risk not ordering the food, and we have no food for New Year. The Government need to introduce a flexi furlough scheme for the hospitality sector, at least for three months to help us support our staff.”

Restaurants ‘pulling hair out’ as brutal festive season sees mass cancellations | devonlive.com

Covid cancellations of ‘over 50 per cent’ threaten hospitality | tavistock-today.co.uk

Whilst hospitality has not fared at all well these last days and indeed months, other sectors of the food industry in the South West have not done too badly:

Food and drink businesses who survived and thrived during the pandemic | devonlive.com

And it looks as though things are going to be even more of a challenge for the industry next year, according to the chief executive of Visit Cornwall:

‘People have to work harder next year to attract tourists to Cornwall’ | cornwalllive.com

There is pressure to ‘do more’ – including from East Devon’s MP:

‘I am lobbying for support for businesses amid Omicron’ | sidmouthherald.co.uk

   
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