England’s new month-long second lockdown puts hundreds of thousands of hospitality sector jobs at risk, according to trade group UKHospitality.
While UK stadiums have not been able to allow fans to watch sport and live events since March, they have been able to welcome patrons for meals and drinks under social distancing rules. Some football stadiums have even organised screenings of matches for small groups in hospitality suites.
However, the Government announced over the weekend that due to the rise of confirmed Covid-19 infections across the country, all bars and restaurants as well as entertainment venues in England must close from Thursday (November 5) until December 2. The Prime Minister is expected to give more details later today (Monday), but the measures must still be passed by Parliament in a vote on Wednesday.
Elite sport will be allowed to continue behind closed doors as currently, while the furlough scheme will now remain open until December, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500.
The Government confirmed that construction projects can continue, with workplaces to stay open where people cannot work from home.
Commenting on the announcement of a second lockdown, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said the sector needs more support.
“Hospitality businesses have already been pushed to the limits, with many closures already,” she said.
“For those that have survived, viability is on a knife edge, as is the future of the tens of thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of jobs that depend on hospitality, including through its supply chain, right across the country.
“It is critical that businesses are given a lifeline to survive the winter, before being given the support to enter a revival phase in 2021, as the nation’s prospects improve. A clear roadmap out of lockdown and through the tiers will also be vital for businesses to plan their survival, and the safeguarding of hundreds of thousands of jobs.
“It is important to remember that some parts of hospitality, such as nightclubs, have not even been allowed to re-open. The support for those, now that potential reopening has been kicked further into the future, must be redoubled to ensure that they are not lost forever.”
Premier League club Brighton and Hove Albion suggested the new lockdown will make little difference to its operations, other than it being further confirmation that fans will not be returning to matches any time soon.
Chief executive Paul Barber told local newspaper The Argus: “With men’s and most likely women’s games still going ahead as planned, we will obviously still need our staff to work at the stadium and training ground, so I don’t anticipate major changes to our current operations.
“Clearly, a second lockdown does however further hamper the discussion about fans returning to watch matches in the stadium but we fully appreciate and respect the need to keep people as safe as possible at this time, and to protect the NHS.
“Looking ahead, nothing changes. We need to be ready and fully prepared to safely welcome fans back when it is possible for us to do so.
“For clubs at all levels, particularly those outside the Premier League, this is financially critical.”
However, fans could soon return in Scotland, with new regulations coming into force this week.
The Scottish Government announced a new five-tier system last month, with the lowest tier including an allowance for limited crowds at stadium events.
Scottish Football League teams Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Ross County and Elgin City each play in the Highlands and Moray, which are both in tier 1.
Inverness chief executive Scot Gardiner told the Press and Journal local newspaper the club has provisionally started planning for hundreds of supporters to return for the November 22 game against Raith Rovers.