PM dithering costing pubs £1k a day with New Year Covid rules decision imminent
Tougher Covid rules are expected to be introduced at some point after Christmas but the Prime Minister’s apparent refusal to announce a decision is costing firms dear
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Boris Johnson’s dithering over new Covid curbs is costing each pub and restaurant a ruinous £1,000 a day.
The PM is expected to decide on New Year restrictions in the coming days – but his uncertainty is already devastating hospitality.
Warning people to stay away from crowded places resulted in Christmas parties being cancelled and drinkers avoiding the pub.
This meant an estimated 35% fall in trade with hospitality losing £5billion in December – equivalent to £160million a day.
Now, with New Year’s Eve looming, pubs, bars and hotels are unsure whether to order in food and drink.
Many are facing financial ruin because this one night can account for a tenth of their annual profits.
David Sheen, of trade body UK Hospitality, said: “The fear of closure or further restrictions means business owners are cutting back on orders and running down stock levels. This is having a knock-on impact on suppliers.”
But Whitehall sources said the earliest we can expect a statement is Monday.
One added: “Maybe not even then. It’s a case of waiting for more data.”
SAGE Government advisers are warning of a large wave of hospital admissions as Omicron moves from younger to older age groups. And it is likely to be made worse by families mixing over Christmas.
One in 35 Brits now has Covid, rising to one in 20 in London – with Omicron the most dominant strain.
The NHS is planning temporary field hospitals in car parks next month to hold 100 patients each.
Whitehall insiders added any new measures are likely to be advisory – so that the PM can avoid facing his rebellious backbenchers with a recall of Parliament.
Amid the ongoing uncertainty, UK Hospitality said despite Chancellor Rishi Sunak ’s £6,000 lifeline to each business, one in 10 still face going bust – which could rise to four in ten next year without Government help.
Hotels are doing slightly better but nearly half say they are likely to run out of cash within the next two months.
Mr Sheen said: “The drop in trade is disastrous and the uncertainty is deterring customers.”
He wants business rates suspended until March and VAT cut for 2022.
And Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin warned that New Year must not be cancelled, saying: “Do not follow Scotland.”
Cinema and theatre bosses are worried the PM will introduce similar social distancing rules to Wales and Scotland, reducing audience sizes. At least 10 theatres in Wales have closed and three more may follow.
The UK Cinema Association said adding social distancing rules when customers already have to show Covid passports to get in made little sense.
Cinemas lost £2billion in revenue due to lockdowns and the money they have recouped from James Bond hit No Time to Die and Spider-Man: No Way Home will be wiped out.
Meanwhile, the fear of Omicron has boosted jab uptake with an 85% rise in 18 to 24s getting their first shot, while 30 million have now had boosters.
The PM took time out of Christmas celebrations at his official country residence, Chequers, to speak to NHS workers giving jabs.
He was joined by wife Carrie as he made the video call, released yesterday, in which they chatted with Dr Laura Mount, who leads a Warrington vaccination team.
Vaccine centres are open throughout the holidays and 750 troops have been drafted in to help out.