Britain’s pubs, restaurants and hotels have declared the 48-hours of government communication ‘catastrophic’. As a result, they cancelled bookings for Christmas parties at venues throughout the country and raised concerns over the Covid variant.
After a variety of Ministers offered conflicting advice on whether or not social contacts should be restricted this winter, millions were left with uncertain festive plans.
So far, the Prime Minister repeatedly asked firms to not cancel Christmas parties. He also advised people to “live their lives” and insisted that vaccines are the best line of defense against panic-inducing Omicron strains.
Today, George Freeman, the Business Minister declared that offices should only employ ‘four to five’ staff or be axed entirely. Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey last night said there should be no ‘snogging under the mistletoe’. Yesterday, Sajid Javid, Health Secretary, advised people to have a Covid check before they go out and that facemasks should be worn while drinking.
Businesses across countries are panicking as muddled messages prompt businesses to cancel their Christmas celebrations.
Chiefs of hospitality are warning the sector that cancellations will cost it ‘billions’. They are asking for financial assistance.
In a joint statement, UKHospitality, the British Institute of Innkeeping, and the British Beer & Pub Association revealed that the sector has been hit by a 30 per cent slump in Christmas bookings even before the emergence of the Covid variant.
“The entire range of UK hospitality venues would typically be experiencing their annual book-bonanza at the same time as Omicron, but this hadn’t happened even before Omicron was discovered,” they stated.
“The WHO announced that Omicron infections tend to be mild. Government promptings to festive gatherings go ahead as scheduled, provide some comfort and may help slow down cancellations of Omicron events in the past week.
“We advise those bookings to not cancel but continue enjoying their holiday parties. We know that the hospitality venues do all they can to make it a happy and enjoyable Christmas.
Richard Corrigan was a patron and chef of Corrigan’s Mayfair. He said, “This was the Christmas meant to save us.” It’s clear that this is not happening. It’s been a long time since we had corporate cancellations. This is also evident in the booked. It isn’t business as usual. It will become a complete crisis for hospitality in April.
Young’s Pub Group boss says that some Christmas parties have been cancelled because of concerns regarding the variant. She also criticised government messaging. Kate Nicholls is chief executive officer of UKHospitality and believes the sector may be better prepared for its busiest season. And Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, called for more clarity from government.
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, turns on the Christmas tree lights in Downing Street
Left George Freeman is the Business Minister. Left, George Freeman, Business Minister. Right Sajid Javid (Health Secretary). Both are in Downing Street London
In the face of an unprecedented wave of cancellations this year, hospitality leaders accused the Government of using’mixed message’
Boris Johnson and Ministers gave different opinions on the question of whether to have a Christmas party
Threety-two cases representing the highly-mutated strain have been identified in the UK. This was after the strain was initially discovered in Africa.
Fears that up to 60 Norwegians might have contracted Omicron Covid-19 from drinking and eating at a Christmas party in Norway has caused panic throughout Europe
Patrick Dardis is Young’s CEO. His chain has more than 270 locations across the UK. Dardis said that he felt the message was confusing and inconsistent. Jenny Harries tells people not to socialize, and Sajid Javid says the exact opposite.
“I believe the message was an overreaction at first and it’s been a concern for some. We have seen cancellations since Friday. This is a good sign that things are starting to settle down and the Government will be able to send the message that you can safely go out to celebrate. Safety is something we take very seriously. I hope people are reassured that it will be safe to go out and celebrate in a pub.
Ms Nicholls blamed Saturday’s ‘chilling’ press conference – where Boris Johnson announced a new raft of Covid restrictions including compulsory facemasks and rules on self-isolation – and deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries’s talk of reducing socialising ahead of Christmas.
She stated that although it was a small trickle right now, she felt the need to reinforce the message more to end the uncertainty surrounding Christmas and to stop the economic slowdown.
“I feel there’s also some trepidation that their plans may be interrupted again. And so, regardless of whether any government controls have been imposed on economy, it is certainly having a cooling affect undoubtedly on hospitality.
“We have already seen that the bookings this year were lower than pre-pandemic levels. This will have an even greater impact on our business.
Russell Norman, of Bruto, told the Telegraph that he has observed confusion from customers. When they arrive, they don’t know what masks to use.
“People want a strong, positive message. These people are anxious and need guidance.
Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses in America, Mr Cherry stated that clarity, consistency, promotion of official advice, as well as proactive promotion of it, are more important than ever.
‘If that advice is to carry on with plans – with protective measures like hand sanitiser, screens, ventilation, masks and testing in place, which small firms have already been investing in these past 18 months – then that needs to be made crystal clear.’
Marston’s boss, who owns 1,500 hotels and pubs across the UK, stated that the company had been experiencing smaller bookings this Christmas.
Sir Martin Sorrell, advertising guru and chief executive of Omicron said that Christmas party cancellations have increased since then. However, there wasn’t enough guidance from the Government.
S4Capital’s executive chairman stated that the uncertainty was extreme. BBC Radio Four Today asked him to explain his views.
“But this has been done before with Delta, the other variations. So you would think that the Government would be better prepared to deal with whatever might happen.
Sacha Lord (night-time economist for Greater Manchester) has joined growing calls from hospitality and tourism industries for assistance by freezing VAT at a lower rate (12.5%) for two year.
Sky News was informed by Dr Harries’ earlier advice that socializing shouldn’t be done unnecessarily this week. This is a ‘catastrophic situation for the industry’.
“We have seen offices cancel, flights cancelled and it has been an enormous domino effect. People can enjoy December, which is when they can make up 25% of their annual turnover. “Sadly, they took it away in the final hour,” he stated.
He added that if the planned rise in VAT from 12.5 per cent to the original 20 per cent rate from April was postponed it would ‘save many jobs and many businesses’.
Google has sent a message to UK employees requesting that they’move all planned in-person social events until 2022′, and limit them to 15 persons.
Ronan Harris, Vice President and MD for Google UK & Ireland, also told workers that face-to-face business meetings and events must be approved by a company director.
Many UK businesses have reintroduced office restrictions, including the ban on mask wear in corridors or lifts, despite guidance from Government.
Aviva Insurance is offering daily lateral flow exams to its employees. EY is among many big companies asking employees to use face covers when away from their desks.
Following a Minister’s last-minute statement that the people ought to socialize at Christmas, the government has been accused in delivering mixed messages. Avoid snogging beneath the mistletoe during the holiday.
Boris Johnson is listening to the children’s chorus during the switch-on ceremony for the Downing Street Christmas tree lights
Kate Nicholls is the chief executive officer of UKHospitality. She said the sector was ready to go ahead with its busiest periods. Boris Johnson, the Covid’s new restriction on Covid including facemasks compulsory and guidelines for self-isolation were blamed for Saturday’s “chilling” press conference.
It comes after Mr Johnson contradicted Dr Harries by saying that Christmas parties should go ahead, hours after she had said Britons should limit socialising over fears surrounding the new Omicron variant of coronavirus that has emerged.
After it was discovered in Africa, 32 cases have been confirmed in Britain. It is possible that this strain could be used to infect others who are already infected.
After urging partygoers to undergo a Covid testing, Mr Javid caused anger among hospitality managers. Even suggesting that partygoers wear a mask, the Health Secretary refused to exclude the possibility of a Christmas lockdown.
Ms. Coffey went on to tell ITV’s Peston that “we should all try to enjoy Christmas ahead of us” and added: “For what it’s value, I don’t believe there should be any snogging underneath the mistletoe.”
“(You) do not have to do such things. However, I believe we all should try to have a Merry Christmas and that is why we are working hard to ensure the availability of vaccines.
Ms. Coffey advised against kissing people she doesn’t know.
It was discovered that Omicron is threatening to disrupt office Christmas parties.
Fears over new strains have led to some employees being told by their managers that they can work remotely. DesignMyNight, an events company, has reported that cancellations of festive parties rose 15% after Prime Minister Tony Blair’s press conference on Saturday. This was in addition to the additional 15 percent he said on Tuesday.
Several restaurants and hotels revealed that they were facing losses of thousands of pounds due to lost bookings.
Omicron strain has been accused of scaring companies into sending their staff home in December, and cancelling Christmas parties.
Sir Christopher Chope is a Tory MP who claimed that Prime Minister’s regulations were ‘particular of a scaremongering propagandist campaign that is actually designed to restrict and stop interaction among social animals. These regulations are designed to restrict freedom and social contact and use unreasonable fear-mongering.
Alec Shelbrooke (Conservative MP for Elmet and Rothwell) said, “I received many emails from travel businesses in my constituency with potential bookings having dropped off acliff because of the price of PCR tests”. Businesses that depend on workers at their offices will lose out on any incentive to work remotely.
Steve Baker spoke against the Commons’ new coronavirus curbs Tuesday and said that the public needs clarity, not Christmas killjoys.
Former Tory minister said that people are tired of the micromanagement of their own lives. They want to be free and joyful, and they want to be free and joyful at Christmas – without the Christmas killjoys.’
Yesterday, officials from World Health Organisation stated that Omicron patients have had very few symptoms so far.
No one of the 32 cases confirmed in the UK was admitted to hospital. Ministers have made it clear that they will be reintroducing face masks on buses and in shops, as well as tightening self-isolation guidelines. The rollout of boosters is to also be accelerated.
Scientists at SAGE recommended that all UK visitors be put in quarantine for five consecutive days. They also need to take a predeparture PCR testing, even if fully vaccinated.