Written by: Keith Tully
Representatives of the hospitality and retail sectors have called on the government to give businesses more advanced warning and greater clarity about what Covid restrictions are likely to be in place in the coming weeks.
Coronavirus restrictions currently in place in England mean most pubs, restaurants and non-essential retailers are closed until early December but it is not yet clear what will happen after that period of lockdown has ended.
Speaking to a parliamentary inquiry, Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the UK Hospitality trade body, said businesses across the country have faced a high degree of uncertainty about what the near future holds for them at various points throughout 2020 and the ongoing pandemic.
“It is simply not good enough to have that information coming out 12 hours before we reopen, which is what we had in September and October,” she said. “We need to know for certain what we are facing over Christmas and new year.”
According to the Guardian, Ms Nicholls went on to say that business leaders and unions should be closer to the conversations around decision-making about restrictions so that they can plan more effectively and better cope with the eventual consequences.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), told MPs that there ought to be more clarity given to businesses about what Covid restrictions are likely to be in place at different times and what the ramifications will be for companies.
She noted that the scope of conversations between business representatives and government decision-makers in recent weeks has been “very limited”.
A major issue highlighted by both the UK Hospitality and BRC chief executives was that of rents, with a huge number of commercial property occupants having recently found themselves unable to pay their rents to landlords as they normally would.
The trade body representatives suggested that thousands of retail and hospitality operations could soon be forced to close unless they can agree deals with their landlords or benefit from an extended ban on commercial property evictions.
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