The hospitality industry in England will get a much-needed handup as Britain announces 1 billion pounds ($1.3B) in grants and aid for restaurants, pubs, venues, and hotels.
Like many other industries, hospitality and entertainment depend heavily on the Christmas surge of business. But last year, Christmas hadn’t yet seen vaccines and this year, omicron is causing a surge in new infections. The chief medical officer of England warned the public to limit their gathering events and who they see. Eateries and hotels are reporting massive waves of canceled reservations. Workers are being forced to self-isolate as cases and contacts surge again, leaving places short-staffed. Venus like theaters, museums, concert halls, and art galleries have all closed their doors again.
“With the surge in omicron cases, people are rightly exercising more caution as they go about their lives, which is impacting our hospitality, leisure and cultural sectors at what is typically the busiest time of the year,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement. “That’s why we’re taking immediate action.”
The immediate action is one-time grants. Businesses in the leisure and hospitality industry will be eligible for one-time grants of up to 6,000 each, depending on need. Another 100 million pounds is to be given to local governments to help them further support those businesses.
Business interest groups don’t see the grants as enough aid, especially with the government advising new restrictions on businesses. No lockdown has yet been announced, but there are rumors.
“The open/close strategy is crucifying businesses,” Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association. “Every pound of help is much needed. But this package is far too little and borders on the insulting.” For mid-to-large restaurants, for instance, 6000 pounds may not cover a single month’s operating costs. And the uncertainty has its own costs, with businesses unable to plan or budget in advance, not knowing if they’ll be open next week.