The measures announced by the Prime Minister on 22 September have not been well-received by an already-wounded hospitality sector. In England the relative largesse of 'Eat Out to Help Out' in August, of treating bars as individual 'bubbles' to enable groups of more than 30 to gather, of enlisting operators to support the so-called NHS Test and Trace programme has been replaced by a 10pm curfew, a legal requirement to capture guest details for NHS Test and Trace on pain of financial sanction or even closure and additional restrictions on table service only. Yet in England, where household transmission is acknowledged to be a key factor, and there has been no dilution of the 'rule of 6', operator feedback is that they feel in some way the scapegoats of the new restrictions. Of course operators will do their utmost to work with the new rules (and this time they are rules not just guidance) out of economic necessity but they do understand the wider social need they fulfil which leaves them puzzled by Government policy. No doubt an appraisal of how to operate under the new rules – for example if they need to recruit more staff to deliver table service - will, sadly, result in many venues not re-opening or, having opened, closing again. As with the hospitality sector in general many in the industry are increasingly wondering whether there is a coherent understanding and strategy that looks beyond the next few days. They will perhaps take some comfort from the Chancellor's statement on 24 September but face this winter, as one operator put it, 'an existential crisis'.

Key contact

David Young

David Young

Partner, Health & Safety
London

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