Welsh pubs and restaurants on the brink after Omicron fuels ‘tsunami’ cancellations


The hospitality industry is ‘battered and bruised’, said a hospitality manager as further restrictions have been placed on the industry by the Welsh government – which add to a ‘tsunami’ of cancellations .

Prime Minister Mark Drakeford has announced a new set of rules for after Christmas.

This will upset many bookings with the return of the 6 and 2m rule of social distancing.

There are also a lot of questions about the new rules with some quick tips you want.

It comes after weeks of cancellations due to concerns about the highly transmissible variant of Omicron and potential measures to control it.

UKHospitality Cymru has warned that new restrictions on hotel businesses in Wales will have devastating financial impacts and could yet precede closures and job losses earlier in the year, despite a package of £ 120million in support in cash from the Welsh government.

“The new restrictions virtually shut down the events industry in Wales and take all other hotel businesses much further into a sub-viable business,” said David Chapman, executive director of UKHospitality Cymru.

“Hundreds of millions of pounds of business have been lost in the run-up to a very quiet Christmas and things will now get worse from Boxing Day.

“Our members are beaten and bruised and at their wit’s end. Morale, as well as customer confidence, is low.

“Our customers have shrunk to a net and this news will only make matters worse.”

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He noted Welsh ministerial calls for the reinstatement of leave and said the kind of firepower the leave represented was vitally needed to complement financial support from the Welsh government.

He added: “The Welsh government – like the UK government – recognizes the dismal trading conditions we had to endure before Christmas and has released more money today to make up for the losses to date.

“The Welsh government tells us it has pushed its own financial limits as far as it can.

“The new packages amount to £ 120million, an additional £ 60million, but this is well short of the huge volume of business that will be lost.

“The cash reserves are long gone; loans are being repaid and costs are skyrocketing.

“Today’s news means we need the UK Government to help our businesses in Wales immediately and make more help available – and do it quickly. Otherwise there could be very serious permanent damage to this industry in a matter of weeks. “

Night Time Industries Association, Wales Commission said: ‘In a survey this week of the sector it was found that the financial impact on the hospitality and nightlife sector in Wales is already far greater than support provisional made available.

“While it is appreciated that the Welsh Government is limited in its ability to provide funding, the fact remains that the interim support provided by the Government of Wales and Westminster remains woefully insufficient to respond to the damage economic and sectoral needs already felt.

‘We urge the UK government to immediately re-implement the leave scheme and provide additional proportionate support to decentralized countries so that UK businesses can survive what now appears to be the most difficult point of the pandemic at this day. “

Ben Francis, FSB Wales Policy Chairman, said: ‘We fully recognize the challenges posed by the current situation and concerns about the future spread of Omicron, as reported today by the Prime Minister at the press conference.

“However, the measures announced today undoubtedly represent a significant challenge for businesses across the economy, especially in the hospitality industry – a sector most under the pressure of this latest public health crisis. and faces the greatest uncertainty.

“While we welcome the fact that many companies will be able to continue to trade, from previous experience we know that the return of the ‘rule of six’ and social distancing as well as table service in licensed premises will impose a limit on the capacity of these companies and added to the reduction in trade in the run-up to Christmas, this will be of great concern. “

He welcomed the proposed new financial package.

He added: “It is essential now that the Minister of the Economy clarifies the details of this new package, ensuring that it takes into account the pre-Christmas pressures, is available to companies in the chain. supply and be delivered as quickly and easily as possible. as possible to ensure that businesses are quickly supported.

“As always, with any new or amended measure it is essential that the Welsh government urgently provide clear and timely guidance to business.

“The time frame for companies to adjust to these measures is extremely tight – especially with the Christmas holidays – and ministers and agencies need to show tolerance and understanding towards companies while working hard to adapt.” changes during a very busy time. period for many.

Aberconwy’s conservative MS Janet Finch-Saunders said: ‘As the number of Omicron cases identified in Wales increased by 204 on Tuesday, with around 941 cases to date, it is clear that this variant is a more communicable threat. Nonetheless, it remains a paradox that the part of the UK with the fewest Omicron cases has acted the hardest to combat it.

“While I welcome the news that the financial assistance offered will be doubled, many Aberconwy hotel and tourism businesses have already witnessed a tsunami of cancellations and suffered a severe blow to their finances. It puts livelihoods and jobs at risk.

“Before funding is announced tomorrow, the Welsh government needs to ensure that support is backdated to cover the wave of cancellations already seen. Given that I have already raised concerns about the way these measures are being applied, ministers must also ensure that they do not operate on a first come, first served basis, but rather on a need-to-know basis.

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“Businesses will need time to gather the required evidence, balancing the re-establishment of restriction signaling with rescheduling requests.

“As such, I will be pushing for a process as simple as possible. Recognizing that this program will also be rolled out during the busy Christmas season, additional staff support should also be provided to Business Wales to ensure that they can appropriately handle the request for responses through their phone and email channels.

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