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The Restaurant World Pushes for a Voice in Parliament

Lobbying throughout the COVID-19 crisis has been stifled by a lack of direct, ministerial representation

Old Compton Street in Soho during the 10 p.m. hospitality curfew, as a staff member clears away chairs
Policies like the 10 p.m. curfew have been heavily criticised by the hospitality world
Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images

A petition signed by some of the U.K.’s most famous chefs is appealing for a Minister for Hospitality in both the current and future governments. The petition is a response to hospitality’s limited political power when lobbying during the novel coronavirus pandemic, particularly regarding the imposition of the 10 p.m. curfew on restaurants, pubs, and bars from 24 September.

Marcus Wareing, Angela Hartnett, and Paul Ainsworth are among chefs backing the petition started by Chef and Restaurant Magazine editor Claire Bosi, according to the BBC. Bosi writes that ““Our country is renowned for having a hospitality sector that is synonymous with excellence, innovation and inspiration. As such a vital part of both the country’s economy and reputation, it seems fair that we, like other sectors, are given a representative voice in Parliament.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has responded with reference to ‘Eat Out to Help Out,’ the furlough scheme, and grants delivered to business throughout the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Hospitality’s relative lack of political power has been an albatross throughout the crisis. While trade association U.K. Hospitality is able to exert pressure on the government through the media, and in giving evidence to House of Commons committees on policy that will affect hospitality, restaurants, pubs, cafes, and bars do not have a direct government representative. This has also made divides in opinion between U.K. Hospitality and other groups — particularly in the early days of national lockdown over the “National Time Out” proposal — more damaging than they might have been.