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Restaurant Bosses Warn Government Not to End Lockdown Too Soon

A group of U.K. restaurateurs will sign letter to business secretary Alok Sharma

Closed cafe during coronavirus lockdown
Restaurants say reopening too early could be terminal
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Phased reopening will still need to take its time

A fresh group of U.K. restaurateurs has urged the government to consider special measures for the hospitality industry as it develops plans to ease the U.K. coronavirus lockdown. Bosses from Italian chain ASK and French brasserie group Cafe Rouge are expected to join TV chef Tom Kerridge in signing a letter to Business Secretary Alok Sharma and cabinet minister Michael Gove, according to Sky News. The letter, in step with calls for a nine-month rent holiday from pressure group Hospitality Union, and the suite of measures requested by trade body UK Hospitality, asks the government to “provide ongoing financial support in the form of furloughing and rent assistance, ‘through any period of restart where a lighter-touch social distancing regime would require a sub-economic opening of our businesses.’” While the government is already floating a furlough scheme extension, concessions on rent are so far limited to eviction protections for restaurants, pubs, bars, and cafes.

Restaurants in Hong Kong and China that have already begun to reopen back up the restaurant boss’s thesis: a “partial” reopening, with stringent safety checks and capacity restrictions, will be catastrophic if introduced alongside any expectation to pay staff costs and rent in full; diners are likely to remain wary of visiting restaurants for some time. The letter underscores what the vast majority of the industry already knows: without significant government intervention, the lifting of the lockdown will do much more harm than good. [Sky News]

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