Up to 540,000 'will lose jobs because of new pub lockdown rules'

Up to 540,000 hospitality workers could lose their jobs as the industry ‘teeters on the edge’ after a new coronavirus crackdown, according to a new report.

One in four hospitality business owners believe they could fail by the end of the year, after Boris Johnson announced a 10pm curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants and a ‘table service only’ rule.

Trade bodies have warned one in eight hospitality workers have already been made redundant, with 675,000 jobs – 25% of workers – expected to be lost by February 2021 if the Chancellor does not extend the Government’s furlough scheme.

Surveys from The British Beer & Pub Association, UKHospitality and the British Institute of Innkeeping show only 7% of respondents are feeling optimistic about the sector over the next 12 months – even before Boris Johnson announced the fresh set of restrictions on Tuesday. This is down from 23% in August and 19% in July.

Samira Heydari, whose dad Ali Heydari, 71, has owned Persian restaurant Safa in London, for more than 40 years, has warned closing during their busiest trading hours will be ‘the final nail in the coffin’ for the family business.

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Speaking to Metro.co.uk, she said her father had spent decades ‘slaving away and paying taxes’, adding: ‘It took them only six months to destroy it, and his livelihood. This I will never forgive.’

Meanwhile, other hospitality business owners feel ‘blamed’ and ‘punished’ for the surge in cases – weeks after the Government encouraged the public to Eat Out To Help Out.

Monica Berg and Alex Kratena, owners of independent London-based Tayēr + Elementary bar and restaurant, said businesses like theirs take 70% of revenue after 10pm.

Alex added: ‘We have now been served a death sentence. I’ve been here for 15 years, I could lose my life-long dream.’

The three major trade bodies have called on the Government to take ‘drastic’ action immediately, as the future of the industry ‘hangs in the balance’.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: ‘This research shows pub businesses were already teetering on the edge. 

‘Now the Prime Minister has announced even more restrictions for them, it is clear much more support will be needed from the Government to ensure they survive.

‘An immediate stimulus package is required for our sector in the form of an extension to the furlough scheme and business rates relief, plus continuation of the VAT cut to food and soft drinks and a significant cut to the UK’s excessively high beer duty.’

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, added that the additional restrictions place ‘even further burdens on a sector that is operating with razor-thin margins and needs all the help it can get. It is vital that these restrictions are reviewed regularly’.

Steven Alton, chief executive of the British Institute of Innkeeping, said: ‘This insight clearly reinforces the urgent need for a specific package of Government support for our sector, especially in light of the devastating impact of new restrictions both on trading and in severely damaging hard-fought consumer confidence.’

Rishi Sunak is set to outline his plan to avoid mass unemployment later today after cancelling this year’s budget amid a suspected second wave.

The Chancellor is thought to be considering introducing a German-style scheme as part of a wider emergency support programme.

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