In today’s coronavirus news, fresh figures reveal persistent challenges for the hospitality sector, while government scientists are calling to delay the 21 June end of lockdown date.
One in four UK restaurants, pubs, bars and other licensed premises have yet to reopen despite the return of inside service, new Market Recovery Monitor research from CGA and AlixPartners shows.
Just under 25,000 venues are still shut as the current restrictions make it unviable to trade.
Only a third of the country’s pubs and restaurants traded during the first phase of reopening before indoor service was allowed to resume on 17 May.
More than 8,500 premises — 7.4% of the pre-pandemic total — have already closed for good.
“It is alarming to see that so many venues have still not been able to welcome guests. Many will have decided that restrictions and space constraints make opening unviable, while some sectors like late-night bars and nightclubs are still completely off limits,” said Karl Chessell, CGA’s director for hospitality operators and food in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
“It will be an anxious wait to see how many of the venues that are holding on until the final easing of restrictions will be able to make it through. Sustained support is clearly going to be needed to save thousands of vulnerable businesses and jobs.”
Meanwhile, business owners continue fearing that England will postpone the end of restrictions after 21 June as previously planned.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce whether to go ahead with the last milestone on 14 June.
Professor Ravi Gupta, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) said lockdown should last for an extra “few weeks” while experts gather more data on the Indian variant.
“There’s been exponential growth in the number of new cases and at least three-quarters of them are the new variant,” he told BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme.
“Of course the numbers of cases are still relatively low at the moment but all waves start with low numbers of cases, and that rumble in the background, and then become explosive,” he added.
“So the key here is what we’re seeing is the signs of an early wave. It will probably take longer than previous waves to emerge because of the fact that we do have quite high levels of vaccination in the population, so there may be a false sense of security for some time — and that’s our concern.”
Last week, infections across the UK rose 28.8% to 23,418, with hospital admissions were up 23.2% to 133.
Shares in hospitality companies were mostly moving higher on Tuesday, with Fulham Shore (LON:FUL), which operates the Franco Manca and The Real Greek chains, up 8%; Coppa Club and Tavolino operator Various Eateries (LON:VARE) up 3%; and Tasty (LON:TAST), which owns the Dim T and Wildwood chains, was 2% higher.
The exception was Loungers (LON:LGRS), where the shares were down 3%.