Good news flooded the hospitality sector yesterday at 12.30pm, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that hotels, pubs and restaurant would be permitted to reopen on July 4, after a four-month closure.
As part of phase four of the country’s roadmap out of lockdown, Johnson announced that next month venues would be allowed to trade again, so long as businesses adhere to specific guidelines and a new 1 metre-plus distancing rule.
Soon after the news was announced, leading industry figures shared their thoughts.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Robin Hutson, CEO of The Pig hotels said that bookings in the three hours after the Prime Minister’s announcement were treble those of a day earlier and website visits increased 120%.
Oakman Inns’ CEO, Peter Borg-Neal said that the group had taken over 3,000 bookings for July 4, with two of its 28 pubs already fully booked. “The critical impact for us will be the reduced capacity – not a lack of public demand,” he said. “The significant challenge will be to ensure that everyone who visits us and works for us has a safe and enjoyable time.
He added: “However, for some of our colleagues in the hospitality industry it will be impossible for them to open economically until the distancing requirement has been removed. Those businesses are going to require continued financial and legislative support to give them a breathing space.”
International hotelier Sir Rocco Forte welcomed the reopening news but criticised the decision to keep the 14-day quarantine rule in place.
He said: “It’s no good just reducing the social distancing rule from two metres to one metre – that won’t help businesses which rely on international travellers because they simply won’t be coming here. It leaves many unable to open their UK hotels because it is just not economically viable.
“We are stopping people from coming to this country and saying that the UK is closed for business,” he added.
He also said he ‘cannot see the sense’ in the new rule whereby venues must take contact details of customers coming into their premises.
“That is completely and utterly unnecessary and is going to make it difficult for them (pubs and restaurants) to operate efficiently if at all.”
Carine Bonnejean, managing director of hotels, Christie & Co, said: “It will be interesting to see how things reopen, but it will take time for the market to properly recover. The next few months are not going to be easy, it’s going to be a rollercoaster. But now, at least, we are on the rollercoaster and we’re moving.”
Harry Murray, chairman at Lucknam Park tweeted following the news: @BorisJohnson confirms 4 July reopening date for hospitality industry & @RobinHutson points out let’s show them how powerful we are to economy & huge thanks @UKHospKate for her tireless efforts on our behalf.