As new restrictions are introduced for the hospitality industry in Wales, FSB Wales makes the case for Welsh Government to respond to the concerns of the industry

Commenting on the day new restrictions are implemented in the Welsh hospitality industry, Ben Francis, FSB Wales Policy Chair, said:

“The hospitality industry has faced the brunt of the economic impact of Coronavirus in Wales to-date and today they are again making a sacrifice in an effort to keep Wales safe.

“These are businesses that have fought tooth and nail to protect staff and customers, keep the business running and play their part to keep Wales safe. They have stretched, they have innovated, they adapted. There are so many within the industry who feel dismayed that despite this and despite playing their part in the recent firebreak lockdown, yet again, they are facing weeks of uncertainty at one of the most crucial times of the year.

“For every pub, restaurant and bar that is affected by these restrictions, there are families with bills, mortgages and a Christmas to pay for that are struggling.

“There is little doubt from what has been expressed within the sector across Wales in the past week, many business owners do not feel that they have been fully brought into the conversations about why restrictions are needed in hospitality settings or invited to understand the rationale for these decisions. It is clear too from the past few days that many businesses owners fear for the future of their businesses and the emotional and mental pressure of those fears cannot be underestimated.

“We know that businesses across Wales want to play their part in driving down cases of Coronavirus and making us all safer. However, while we appreciate that such decisions are not taken lightly, we need a new narrative on restrictions and the options available to government. Businesses need to feel that measures to tackle Coronavirus are undertaken with them, not simply done to them.

“Most immediately, Welsh Government now needs to move to ensure that support is delivered as quickly as possible to affected businesses – many of whom will already have incurred significant costs for the coming weeks. We need a tangible guarantee that this funding will begin to flow before Christmas and New Year.

“Beyond that, there needs to be an exit strategy for how businesses will be brought out of these restrictions and able to trade fully again.

“We also need to consider what the available options might be in the event of any future restrictions into the New Year to ensure that such restrictions are focussed, proportionate and communicated in a timely and effective manner to best minimise the hit on not just the hospitality sector but all sectors within our economy.

“This is a time of corrosive uncertainty for the hospitality sector. This sector represents the best of the Welsh welcome and are ambassadors for all that Wales has to offer. When recovery comes, we will turn to these businesses to play a central part in that recovery effort. We need to take action now to ensure that sector is in the best possible position to play that role, and to that end we will be writing to the First Minister to outline our concerns and discuss how these issues can be dealt with moving forwards.”

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