Wednesday 18 November 2020 5:55 pm

Hospitality: 96,000 firms to close next year without reform to tier system

The coronavirus pandemic could force around 96,000 hospitality firms out of business next year, industry trade bodies have warned.

A survey of British Beer & Pub Association, British Institute of Innkeeping and UK Hospitality members found that 72 per cent of firms expect to become unviable and close in 2021.

Read more: Hospitality boss warns 660,000 jobs lost before second lockdown pushed sector into ‘intensive care’

Firms said the tiering system that was in place before the latest England-wide lockdown was particularly damaging for the sector, and demanded more support, including larger grants, from the government. 

They called on the government to adapt the restrictions when the full lockdown is lifted, which is expected to happen on 2 December, by relaxing the ban on households mixing and extending the 10pm curfew.

The sector also urged ministers to allow wet-led pubs to stay open in tier three, which currently only allows pubs that serve food to continue to trade. 

Under the current tier one restrictions, which restrict groups to six people and includes the 10pm curfew, just 25 per cent of hospitality operators said they could turn a profit. 

Meanwhile 76 per cent of businesses said they would be unviable or operating at a loss under tier two restrictions, which prohibit members of different households meeting up indoors.

For firms operating under tier three restrictions, just six per cent said their business would be viable. 

A joint spokesperson for the three trade organisations said: “The evidence is here to see of the devastating, long-term impact the Government’s restrictions are having on hospitality and pub businesses.

Read more: Hospitality supplier Johnson Service Group axes 1,500 jobs

“Without a change in approach and more support from government, much of our sector could be gone within a year – that means businesses and jobs lost plus much-loved venues closed forever.

“We recognise that local restrictions will need to be based on local risk levels, but to ensure our sector can bring people together properly this Christmas and beyond, and crucially provide them a safe environment to socialise in, we believe the tier system should be fine-tuned.”