Hospitality chiefs call for in-depth probe into pandemic curbs ‘damage’

The Government confirmed the draft terms of its Covid-19 inquiry last week highlighting the areas it will investigate.

12 April 2022

Three hospitality industry veterans have called for a more in-depth probe into the “wide-reaching damage” caused by restrictions on the sector, claiming the Government’s draft Covid-19 inquiry does not go far enough.

Hugh Osmond, founder of Punch Taverns, Sacha Lord, founder of The Warehouse Project and Parklife festival, and Michael Kill, chief executive officer of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) criticised the initial draft in a response to Government.

The Government confirmed the draft terms of its Covid-19 inquiry last week highlighting the areas it will investigate.

The draft says that its scope will cover the hospitality sector however the bosses warned that they do not believe it will provide sufficient focus on how a variety of pandemic restrictions impacted firms.

They have call also called for an “urgent interim report” assessing the economic impact of closing hospitality, claiming that a lengthy process as part of the full report could take too long to address industry concerns.

A pint glass (Ben Birchall/PA)
A pint glass (Ben Birchall/PA)

The trio said: “If complete closure of the industry becomes the expected response, the sector will become un-investable.

“The importance of the timing of such a report is crucial.

“If the Inquiry waits until the end of its process before producing a report, further waves of Covid may have hit, and it may already be too late for the sector to recover.”

The group also called for specific hospitality related policies, such as enforced table service, substantial meal requirements, Eat Out To Help Out and the 10pm curfew, to be assessed as part of the process.

They also argued that the inquiry should work towards producing a framework to assess whether future proposed restrictions are justifiable.

“To fail to address any of the industry-specific measures will mean that the collective impact of the rules which were being imposed in succession of each other and contemporaneously will not be properly represented or considered by the Inquiry,” the trio added.

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