As the pandemic coronavirus sinks its teeth into businesses and cuts air supply, some restaurants in the UK have been forced to run to the Prime Minister for help. The bosses at restaurants and food chains including Wagamama and Pizza Hut have warned the prime minister the sector faces major cuts without more help.
The letter to PM Boris Johnson which had ninety signatories insists that if social distancing remains, they will need action on tax, rents and other support to ameliorate their sinking businesses. With one firm indicating that, without help the sector faces “grave damage”.
In their letter to the prime minister, the companies which total more than 1,000 outlets rained plaudits on government measures already introduced but said more “swift actions” was needed with two-meter separation requirements remained in place.
On Monday, the Prime minister’s official spokesperson said they would “look at evidence around transmission of the virus in different environment, incidence rates and international comparison with ministers saying the review will be completed “in the coming weeks”.
In the letter, the bosses write: “Without government support to help restaurants to generate revenue and cover costs, tens of thousands of restaurants may be forced to permanently close their doors in the coming months.
“The crisis is far from over and the potential consequences are deeply concerning. A huge number of restaurants across the country are facing the prospect of bankruptcy”.
These firms own outlets across the UK, but are likely to reopen them at different times. In Northern Ireland for instance, restaurants and cafes can reopen from 3 July, and in England the day after. The Scottish government has outlined a phased approach to pubs and restaurants are opening but there is no date, nor is there a date for Wales, according to a BBC report.
The food chains also want “mortgage holidays” for landlords, so that this can be passed on in the form of lower rents, and an extension of the moratorium on evictions for as long as social distancing measures prevent restaurants from operating at full capacity.
Speaking on the issue, a government official said, “We are working closely with the hospitality sector to develop safe ways for restaurants, bars and cafes to reopen as soon as we can from July”.
“These businesses can continue to access our extensive packages of support including our job retention scheme which has been extended until October- meaning it will have been open for eight months and will continue to support businesses as the economy reopens and people return to work”.
A recent survey by Deliveroo found more than half of small and independent restaurants said they would have to close within three months without further support. It said, “Without government support to help restaurants to generate revenue and cover costs, tens of thousands of restaurants may be forced to permanently close their doors in the coming months.
The signatories pointed out that last year, customers spent £40 billion in restaurants supporting one million employees.