“The current uncertainty is creating a wave of panic across the hospitality sector.
The 21 June has been etched on the minds of operators as the date when they can finally trade normally unrestricted by capacity limits and social distancing measures, and any delays to this critical milestone will have severe consequences for the sector.
While the ringing of tills and clinking of pint glasses have been welcome sounds to the ears of bar owners, the scars of the pandemic will take years to heal. Having spent half a billion on measures to create safe environments, the vast majority are currently trading at a loss.
Add in the impending financial demands, and the mental anxiety many are facing is unimaginable. Landlords are circling and in most cases, demanding the rent arrears accrued over the last 15 months, and once the rent moratorium falls away at the end of June, we could see thousands of venues fall by the wayside if restrictions are not fully lifted. Nightlife venues in particular deserve reassurance and the bank holiday weekend has been a stark reminder of the necessity of licensed nightclubs.
If they remain closed, we are bound to see the return of unregulated, unlicensed illegal mass gatherings, which quickly surge out of control and bring with them an increased likelihood of illegal substance misuse.
Given all they have been through in the past 18 months, the Government owes our young people safe, regulated and ventilated environments, where we can rest assured they are being properly cared for.
The next two weeks will be critical for our industry and we must not let ourselves get carried away in a blind panic without the data to justify continued restrictions. So long as hospitalisations remain low, we must continue on our path to normality, for the mental health of operators and society at large.”