Impatience is growing amongst backbench MPs who are calling for the hospitality sector to be re-opened in time for Easter, which this year falls on Sunday 4 April.
Industry leaders are also calling for a lifting of restrictions that have had a devastating impact on the once thriving leisure and hospitality sector. 160 CEOs have wriiten to the chancellor asking for further support across the sector, with many calling for the revival of the Eat Out to Help Out campaign.
The industry is hoping that there are no restrictions on what has to be ordered in pubs and restaurants, as happened during the tiered lockdown system; you could only have a drink if you ordered a ‘substantial’ meal (tier 2) and in tier 3 locations pubs could only serve soft drinks.
No dates for the loosening of the lockdown have been confirmed by the government – except for when schools will open (8 March) and when non-essential retailers can open (during March).
Although the industry would prefer to be open in time for Easter, scientists are still arguing that pubs, bars and restaurants should remain closed until May to prevent any spikes in the number of COVID-19 cases.
The long Easter weekend is an important date in the calendar for the leisure and hospitality sector, which traditionally marks the start of the holiday season. This year Easter will be even more important as companies and supplliers try to claw back some of their lost revenues.
Sadly, many venues will never re-open; in 2020 around 6,000 licensed premises went out of business (triple the failure rate of 2019), with some estimates putting the figure of lost pubs and bars at 10,000.
With the threat of British tourists having to quarantine on arrival from many overseas holiday destinations, the UK hospitality sector is expecting a surge of bookings as soon as the PM’s recovery plan has been announced.
In the meantime, we are crossing our fingers and hope that the rumours of an April re-opening doesn’t make fools of us.