Fears of 'wave of jobs losses and looming bankruptcies' in Welsh hospitality sector

  • Bruno Nunes says a support package from the Welsh Government is not enough to prop up the hospitality sector. 

The head of a leading hospitality group has warned Wales is facing a “wave of job losses and looming bankruptcies” due to Covid restrictions. 

Bruno Nunes, who owns a number of nightclubs, restaurants and bars in Swansea and Cardiff, says his businesses have been hit by customers travelling across the border to England where there are fewer restrictions on hospitality. 

As the number of Omicron cases in Wales increased in the lead up to Christmas the Welsh Government responded by closing nightclubs while also introducing further measures such as six to a table, mask-wearing indoors and table service for places like restaurants and bars.

A support package worth £60m was also made available for businesses affected by the new measures, which was later increased to £120m.

Although Nunes, CEO of the Creative Hospitality Group, says the support is not enough to prop up the hospitality sector. 

He said: “The damage that the closure of nightclubs and restrictions in hospitality has caused is acute and will be met with a wave of job losses and looming bankruptcies in businesses that have suffered the most since the start of the pandemic.

"Like all my peers in the hospitality sector, I find it galling to see so many people pile onto trains heading for England to celebrate New Year’s Eve with no restrictions.

"Each weekend that follows with restrictions still in place in Wales will see a further mass exodus of young people who could have been spending their money in Wales but instead are contributing to the English economy.

"Our industry contributes £105bn to the UK economy each year. Why is the First Minister jeopardising the Welsh economy in this way”

Nightclubs have been close in Wales since December but remain open over the border in England.

Nunes added that the financial support available will not be enough to make up for his costs.

“From my own business perspective, I may be entitled to £90k across the 9 weeks," he said.

"This won’t even cover my staff wage, rent and loan repayment costs for a single week. We need more support, we need more clarity and most importantly we need the evidence that shows why our sector has been targeted so harshly.”

In a statement a Welsh Government spokesperson said: "As a result of the rapidly spreading omicron variant, Wales is currently at alert level two. This means the majority of businesses are currently open and able to trade, but we appreciate the measures in place to protect the public and staff are having an impact on businesses.

“Our £120m package of emergency financial support, covers impacted businesses for the period from 13 December 2021 to 14 February 2022.

“The Cabinet is reviewing the situation on a weekly basis and will continue to consider whether additional emergency business support funding is needed.”

The next Welsh Government Covid review is expected on Friday 7 after First Minister Mark Drakeford announced in December he would be moving to weekly reviews due to how quickly the new Omicron variant was spreading.