Hospitality businesses react to Government's lockdown roadmap plans

Generic image of people outside together Credit: PA

On the day of the Government's announcement on the lockdown lifting roadmap, we spoke to West Country hospitality businesses to get their reaction and hopes on the return of people eating, drinking and staying with them again.

The Prime Minister's long-awaited roadmap out of lockdown has left many hospitality businesses across the South West resigned to a prolonged closure. 

The date to look for when it comes to pubs and restaurants is April 12, but this will be for outdoor seating only at this stage.

Indoor seating will open after May 17, with the rule of six restrictions still in place. After this date, there will be no limits to the number socialising outdoors.

Amy Devenish, owner of the Gloucester Old Spot pub in Bristol, says the announcement brought no surprises for her but that hasn’t eased her disappointment.

The financial burden of lockdown is not the only challenge she has had to deal with.

Amy brought her staff off furlough today (22nd February) to help get the pub ready for when it can reopen but also to help with their mental health as the past year has taken its toll.

“It’s been hard for them, really hard for them," she says.

Businesses like the Gloucester Old Spot will remain closed until May at the earliest.

"The first lockdown was almost a novelty to a degree. The sun was shining and everybody was happy to have a bit of time off but now some of them are really struggling."

Just hours before the announcement, Dave Jenkins, who is the chef owner at Rock Salt & Salumi in Plymouth, said: “As long as it doesn’t go on for too long, we can hopefully get to May, June, July, and actually get some form of normality where people can come in and there’s a convivial atmosphere in a restaurant would be lovely, people sat outside in the sunshine drinking and enjoying themselves having a lovely bite to eat.

Dave Jenkins, Chef Owner, Rock Salt & Salumi, Plymouth

"If we can do that and it means we have to just prolong it for a little bit longer then I’m all for that, but the packages have got to be put in place to help these businesses through this period just to help get us over the line.”

The Bristol Association of Restaurants, Bars and Independent Establishments (BARBIE) have also expressed concern for those losing out on the positive impact hospitality can have on their mental health.

"A lot of people will say these are community spaces that are needed for people’s wellbeing," says Brendan Murphy from the association. 

Around 30,000 jobs in Bristol are directly linked to the industry that has been struggling over the past year. 

But those within it say they not only need to open but can do so safely. 

"Bar owners and restaurant owners are going to make sure that their customers are covid secure, "added Brendan.

Around 30,000 people's jobs in Bristol are directly linked to the hospitality industry.

"They will run and adhere to all of the rules. 

"They just need an opportunity to trade." 

Self-contained holidays within the UK could be permitted as early as April 12, too.

Unique Homestays have around 190 properties around the UK, with many in the South West.

Francesca Reed, Unique Homestays

Francesca Reed, Head of Brand at Unique Homestays said: “Even if it is later on than we would have anticipated and hoped for then it is just having something that we can really work towards, I think that’s what we’ve all been striving for this time round.

"It’s looking great post Easter really, summer is brilliant, we’re at 91% occupancy for June, so we have some homes left but not many.

“I think we were hoping that exactly a year since we went into lockdown would have marked the end but it seems it’s not that way which is unfortunate but I do think people are still booking, people just want something to look forward to.”

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