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Restaurant Industry Calls for Financial Support Over Coronavirus Downturn

U.K. Hospitality implores the government to annul business rates in the event of quarantine

Simpsons Tavern In East London
The U.K. restaurant industry is bracing for novel coronavirus downturn
Sam Mellish / In Pictures via Getty Images

The U.K. restaurant industry is extremely worried

As novel coronavirus (COVID-19) causes London restaurant downturn, cancels the London Coffee Festival, and leads U.K. supermarkets to ration core foods and goods, trade body U.K. Hospitality has implored the government to impose a “moratorium on business rates for a minimum of 3 months, extendable dependent on the extent of virus spread,” and for “any quarantined area to have business rates annulled for the period of non-trading.”

As chancellor Rishi Sunak announces his first Budget tomorrow, chief executive Kate Nicholls has said that:

There has been a significant impact on the sector. Bookings are down, footfall is down, and all signs point to it getting worse before it gets better.

This is now an emergency for our sector. If Government doesn’t act to mitigate the impact and give us support, businesses are in danger. This means cash flow becomes a problem, venues are under threat and jobs at risk.

The concerns stem from scenes of empty squares, restaurants, and towns in Italy, with countrywide emergency measures imposing curfews on restaurants and bars over 6p.m. and suspending all large gatherings. The U.K., which still classes itself as in the “containment” stage of the novel coronavirus outbreak, is yet to issue such directives, but London restaurant owners tell Eater that they would not be able to survive such advice, if it were to be issued longterm. U.K. Hospitality’s own statistics say that hotel occupancy has fallen 15 percent while eating and drinking out has declined by 7 percent; London’s Chinatown restaurants have consistently reported downturn since the virus’ discovery, even before it arrived in the U.K.

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