Hospitality trade association UKHospitality has called for an immediate review of the government’s test and trace isolation guidelines. It says current measures are “massively disruptive” to the sector.
The body says existing staff shortage problems are being “compounded” by staff being told to self isolate.
It says the current system can lead to whole teams needing to self-isolate and is forcing businesses to close.
Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality chief executive, said: “A sensible and pragmatic approach would be to extend the ‘test to remain’ system for vaccinated staff to hospitality. That would avoid businesses being forced to close, losing thousands of pounds of revenue at a time when cash reserves are low or non-existent following 16 months of closure and punitive trading restrictions.”
She added that “if the system remains as it is, there’s a threat of mass isolations, which would hugely damage trade, putting many companies at risk of failure. Hospitality is eager to trade its way back to prosperity, so ideally the Government should act to ensure that vast swathes of the population are not unnecessarily confined to their homes due to rules formulated before the successful vaccine roll out.”
Existing hiring bottlenecks in the UK hospitality sector have prompted pubs and restaurants to turn to temporary staff to keep up with demand. As a result, companies have been forced to increase wages by as much as 14 per cent.
Hospitality businesses were left “crushed” by the delay to lockdown restrictions. Charlie Gilkes, Inception Group co-founder, told City AM:
“The news was another blow for our industry. Some of our venues, specifically our nightclubs, have been closed for 15 months, meaning we’ve had no income at all for a very long time and our bars are operating with huge capacity constraints.”