More financial support and the lifting of trade restrictions are urgently needed to prevent Welsh hotel business closures and job losses.
That was the warning from UKHospitality Cymru as they signaled a festive flop thanks to Omicron fears and new restrictions that came after Christmas Day.
These included the rule of 6 and table service in pubs and restaurants which were introduced despite the technical advisory cell – which examines the data and models how various restrictions work – advising against “light touch mitigations” . Nightclubs have also been forced to close.
The TAC has indicated that a four-week lockdown would be needed to reduce case rates and although cases have increased since then, growing evidence shows that the percentage of people falling seriously ill is much lower than that of previous waves. Despite this, the services are under pressure due to the illness of the staff and the large number of cases.
The hospitality industry is struggling across the UK – including England despite the lack of new rules – but UKHospitality estimates that 25% more are affected in Wales due to the restrictions.
The next announcement of Covid restrictions will be on Friday.
“Overall, the forced sub-viable trade and associated climate of caution fueled a festive flop in our pubs, restaurants, hotels and the hospitality industry at large,” said David Chapman, executive director of UKHospitality Cymru.
“A disastrous Christmas and New Year under the latest restrictions has left many people in dire financial straits with grants well below what is needed. In particular, keeping staff on current government supports is not sustainable.
“Nightclubs in Wales are closed but are expected to keep a full staff roster, perhaps for up to two months, with a grant that doesn’t even match a busy night’s earnings.
‘Their English counterparts are reporting a drop in attendance and heavy losses even without the set of tough additional restrictions imposed on Wales – incomes are currently at least 25% lower than across the border .
“If financial support is not readily available serious business impacts are inevitable, which will severely damage communities across Wales.”
The Welsh government has been invited to comment.
The government has provided a £ 120million support fund for the affected sectors.
They previously said: “Throughout the pandemic, we have taken a scientific and evidence-based approach to our response as we protect people’s lives and livelihoods.
“Omicron is a rapidly growing and highly infectious form of coronavirus. While these preliminary studies bring comfort and hope as to the severity of the disease, if this omicron wave infects a large number of people, it will have repercussions on public services and the economy due to staff absences; this could cause an increase in hospitalizations, at a time when the NHS is already busiest, and we could sadly see more deaths.
“We take seriously the advice of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies when it says that the earlier the interventions, the more effective they will be. The Alert Level Two measures and the enhanced guidelines, which will be introduced from Boxing Day, are a proportionate response to omicron’s public health threat. “
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