Michelin starred chef Tom Kerridge has warned “places will crumble without help” due to new COVID restrictions, echoing concerns raised by music venues who say they are on the brink of collapse.
He posted a video on Instagram showing pages and pages of cancelled bookings at one of his restaurants in the past six days – totalling 654 guests.
“I completely understand why and have no problem with them letting us know,” he said.
“Public health is THE most important thing. The problem is what will the government do to support the hospitality industry? Many places are going to crumble without help….
“And before some gammon-faced idiot says ‘you can afford it fat lad!’ … yes I probably can, but this isn’t about me or my restaurants. It’s about our industry and people’s livelihoods.”
Grassroots music venues ‘in crisis mode’
The restaurant sector is not the only one expressing concerns about newly implemented Plan B measures – which include making face masks mandatory in most indoor venues and COVID-19 passes for nightclubs and some performance spaces.
Grassroots music venues experienced a 23% drop in audiences in the week since the restrictions were announced, leading to a huge loss of income that could force some to close permanently.
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More than half – 61% – of those surveyed had to cancel at least one event in the week to 13 December largely due to private hire bookings being withdrawn (31.3%), performers and tour staff testing positive for COVID-19 (35.6%), and low sales (23.6%).
Losses across the sector hit nearly £2m in the past week, with 86% of venues saying they have been negatively affected.
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Beverley Whitrick, strategic director of the Music Venue Trust, said the Christmas party season usually accounts for 20% of income, adding that “losses of this magnitude cannot be sustained without throwing hundreds of music venues into crisis mode”.
Government urged to act now
Mark Davyd, the group’s chief executive, said: “It feels like we are back exactly where we were in March 2020, when confusing government messaging created a ‘stealth lockdown’ – venues apparently able to open but in reality haemorrhaging money at a rate that will inevitably result in permanent closures unless the government acts quickly to prevent it.”
He urged the government to suspend business rates, cut VAT and use its cultural recovery fund to help venues.
“We have been here before,” said Mr Davyd, “This time the government already has all the tools in place that it needs to manage this impact and prevent permanent closures.”
It comes after several West End shows including The Lion King were forced to cancel performances due to outbreaks of coronavirus among cast and crew.