Restaurant industry bosses are set to urge the government not to end the UK coronavirus lockdown too soon, warning the move would cause permanent closures.
Celebrity chefs Rick Stein and Tom Kerridge are among the restaurateurs to sign a letter to business secretary Alok Sharma and Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, which will be sent in the next few days, Sky News reported.
The letter will warn that lifting the UK coronavirus lockdown and reopening restaurants too soon could cause a “substantial” number of businesses to fail.
Restaurants will collapse due to “the discrepancy between the costs they will incur and the revenues they will be able to achieve”.
“The impact on long-term employment in the sector, and wider economic damage this would cause, would be very painful,” the letter will say, according to the broadcaster.
The letter will also reportedly be signed by Harvey Smyth, the chairman of Ask Italian owner Azzurri Group, and Rooney Anand, chairman of the Casual Dining Group, which owns Las Iguanas and Cafe Rouge.
Restaurant owners are concerned that sites will be operating at limited capacity due to social distancing measures and that demand could be slow to pick up due to customer uncertainty about getting back to normal after the UK coronavirus lockdown.
This could result in revenue plummeting while staff costs, rent and supply costs remain at the same level.
A partial reopening of restaurant businesses when the UK coronavirus lockdown lifts “may be counterproductive”, the letter will say.
“Should we be asked to re-open too early…it will be impossible for most restaurants to operate sustainably until we are also able to return to serving customers at our normal capacity.”
Industry figures have urged the government to extend its furlough scheme and provide rent assistance for the hospitality sector.