Rishi will now offer support to hospitality. Bosses call for urgent support after Prof Whitty warns Britons to ‘prioritise’ when they go out

  • According to restaurants and pubs, ‘prioritising’ social contact is a ‘disastrous advice’ 
  • Many were affected by mass cancellations of key holidays.
  • Raymond Blanc and Tom Kerridge, celebrity chefs for Omicron are calling for their action

The hospitality industry demanded urgent help from the Treasury after Chris Whitty’s comments yesterday. 

Pubs and restaurants said the chief medical officer’s advice to ‘prioritise’ some social contact over other events would be disastrous. 

They have also been subject to mass cancellations in the festive season. 

Prior lockdowns had billions of dollars provided to help businesses. These included everything from furlough for employees to meals at half the price for customers. 

Raymond Blanc and Tom Kerridge, celebrity chefs, are calling for greater action against Omicron. 

Celebrity chef Raymond Blanc has described the current situation as ¿carnage¿ as he called for more action to help businesses through Omicron

Celebrity chef Raymond Blanc has described the current situation as ‘carnage’ as he called for more action to help businesses through Omicron

Kerridge said he had suffered 654 cancellations in six days, while Blanc described the current situation as ‘carnage’. 

Rishi Sunak, who is currently in the US, will hold talks with hospitality chiefs today – but the Treasury indicated last night that no new help would be forthcoming unless further restrictions were brought in by law. 

Baroness McGregor-Smith, president of the British Chambers of Commerce, said businesses were being hit by a ‘two-punch combination’ of staff shortages and waning confidence from customers, meaning firms face seeing ‘vital festive income melt away’. 

She added that Professor Whitty’s comments last night ‘will almost certainly have an enormous impact for businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector… [but]We have not heard of any financial assistance measures.

‘Until now the Treasury has stepped up at every stage of this crisis to help offset restrictions that limited businesses’ ability to trade fully, which is what makes its complete absence at this crucial moment all the more baffling.’ 

Following advice to work from home amid rising Covid cases, Kate Nicholls of UKHospitality said Plan B was having a ‘devastating’ impact. 

‘We desperately need support if we are to survive this latest set of restrictions and urge the Government to stand behind our industry,’ she said. 

‘That means full business rates relief, grants, rent protection and extended VAT reductions. Anything less would prove catastrophic.’ 

Yesterday’s trading update from Wetherspoon included warnings by Tim Martin that Covid curbs might see his pub chain lose its first six months. He complained the nation was heading towards ‘a lockdown by stealth’. 

Chef Michel Roux Jr tweeted that his daughter had been hit with ‘over 300 cancellations in the last two days’, with Blanc saying: ‘It’s carnage… we all hope that the Government will help the industry.’ 

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves tweeted last night: ‘Where is the Chancellor? Government just told the public to “deprioritise social contact”… it’s unacceptable that he wasn’t there to outline business support.’ 

According to a source, Mr Sunak is currently on an extended work trip and will return tomorrow. 

He will hold today’s talks with industry chiefs from San Francisco, where he is meeting senior figures from the tech and investment sectors. 

A spokesman for the Treasury said: ‘Our £400billion Covid support package will continue to help businesses into spring next year and we will continue to respond proportionately to the changing path of the virus.’