Yesterday, Boris Johnson advised people to avoid social gatherings, in what will become a detrimental move for the UK’s pubs, restaurants and leisure businesses amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.
During a press conference, the prime minister urged millions watching to practice social distancing by staying at home and avoiding all non-essential travel.
He suggested that eating out or going to the pub or theatre should be completely avoided – however no legal mandate was put forward for these businesses to close.
As a result of this, millions of hospitality workers are now at risk of losing their livelihood as bars, restaurants and other leisure businesses are preparing for a complete halt in footfall.
Of course, this depletion in footfall has been anticipated since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, however, the Government stopped short in forcing these businesses to close, meaning they cannot claim on insurance without government intervention.
The inevitably of staff layoffs while business owners struggle to pay their workforces is very much a reality now. Your favourite local bar, restaurant, gym or salon will struggle to stay afloat and when the COVID-19 dust settles, they may no longer exist.
Britain's hospitality industry employs more than 3.2 million people. These people work in pubs, restaurants and other outlets. They also make up the third-largest sector for employment in the UK.
The government needs to immediately and formally close venues instead of effectively doing so without taking ownership – so that business owners can claim for interruption insurance and stand a fighting chance of receiving the support they need.
But waiting on the government to do something will not suffice, we need to get the ball rolling, and there ARE things you can do to help.
Things you can do
- Encourage your local bar and restaurant to introduce a delivery service. This will allow them to not only become available to new customers, but it will keep their kitchen alive. Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat have all introduced measures that practise the safe and stress-free delivery of food during these uncertain times, and a no-contact delivery option has also been introduced. This will prompt your driver, who will be wearing gloves and a face mask, to leave the items on your doorstep.
- Increasing delivery boundaries will also make a massive difference. Delivery services and restaurants should work together in order to implement the capability of delivering food to areas that are usually out of range. This will increase business as those in isolation will be able to order food that they love, from places usually too far from home. But this won't happen unless we make some noise.
- Buy vouchers. This is a big one. Vouchers for local businesses are often overlooked, but are a way to directly put money into their pocket while choosing to use them at a later date. This is a perfect solution and should be widely encouraged – and if your favourite local spot doesn't sell vouchers, it's time to convince them!
- Interacting with local businesses on social media is such a passive action for us, but is massively important for the business. Commenting on and sharing a social media post will allow others to discover that business, who in turn, may use their delivery service, buy a voucher, or simply follow and visit them when the dust settles. This is the time to be generous. Don't just scroll past.
- Lastly, sign this petition, which is calling on the government to support the UK's hospitality industry through the Coronavirus crisis.
A total fucking disgrace. If you have always enjoyed small independent restaurants.they really need you right now— Matt Tebbutt (@matt_tebbutt) March 17, 2020
Boris Johnson: Call to the Government to support UK's hospitality industry through the Coronavirus crisis - Sign the Petition! https://t.co/qU6bAM8DCq via @UKChange
The Coronavirus pandemic is a challenge and a tragedy in equal measure for everybody, not only in this country, but across the world. Decline in footfall, revenue and business in general was inevitable.
We are all in this together. Let's help where we can.