It’s been a big week for all of us in hospitality. As a nation, we love few things more than getting together with friends and family, socialising, sharing stories and catching up.
Coming at the end of a tough year with so few opportunities to do just that, the reopening of pubs, cafes and restaurants – albeit only those with outdoor space – has been joyous and a real lift to the nation’s spirits.
For people whose livelihoods rely on hospitality, this week will hopefully be remembered as the first baby step back to normality.
There’s also been an overriding feeling of relief as people return to venues in such encouraging numbers.
Businesses have poured large chunks of cash into successfully and safely welcoming back guests to their beer gardens and terraces, come rain or shine – and in some cases, even snow.
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UKHospitality is the voice of the broad hospitality sector – Britain’s third largest sector, directly employing over three million people before the crisis hit – and understands how important a revival is for everyone.
This dynamic industry and its venues can kick-start an economic recovery, restore and revive our high streets and communities. It can also generate jobs and careers for our young people, who have felt the brunt of the terrible economic impact of this pandemic.
That is exactly why the Government cannot take its eye off the ball when it comes to supporting hospitality and ensuring we bounce back strongly. Issues like rent debt and the unfair burden of business rates still need to be resolved.
Of course, support such as the furlough scheme has been incredibly helpful to sectors like hospitality and saved jobs – but the industry remains in a fragile state.
Only four in 10 venues have the outdoor space to reopen, so many businesses are still shut and thousands of livelihoods still shrouded in uncertainty.
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While this week is a cause for celebration, the reality is that this is a very limited return.
The majority of businesses that were able to reopen outdoors will have been lucky to have broken even this week, let alone turn a profit.
Even when, fingers crossed, indoor opening returns on May 17, it will still be with significant restrictions in place. We are still far from being out of the woods.
Yet we can all play our part to help safeguard the future of our local pub, bar, restaurant or cafe, by visiting what are probably the safest and most regulated of public spaces.
Guests who have returned over the past week have been fantastic and understanding if service is slower while businesses iron out glitches as a result of new reopening rules, so a big thank you.
But one request – if you have booked to visit and are unable to come along, please let the venue know.
No-shows are incredibly frustrating for operators and can mean the difference between a business making or losing money.
Here’s hoping we can all continue to enjoy ourselves safely over the coming weeks with the luxury of sunshine and brighter times ahead.