New restrictions imposed on the UK hospitality sector in a bid to slow the spread of Covid-19 have been described by one Michelin-starred chef as tantamount to “shooting the wounded”.
Commenting shortly after it was announced this week that all UK restaurants, bars and pubs will have to close at 10pm, Adam Byatt, chef, food writer and owner of London’s Michelin-starred Trinity as well as Bistro Union, said that such a measure was “like shooting the wounded”.
He continued, “To restrict the already suffering hospitality sector is bad enough, but to inflict a blanket restriction on such a varied sector shows a lack of understanding at the highest level.”
He also said, “I get the need for late night vertical drinking to be curtailed but see no reason why restaurants with one sitting, whose guests are distanced, should be penalised.”
He added, “Let’s face it – hospitality did not cause this second peak, conditions on its operations will not fix the rise in infections either, this is just a stop gap, a breathing period for government to prepare the real message, and we, the hospitality industry are the scapegoat.”
While he commented that he had re-opened after the Coronavirus lockdown in the UK “with a model that does not need to turn tables,” he said that he feels “for those that do and those pubs that will suffer.”
As previously reported by the drinks business, the hospitality industry has warned the restrictions would be “another crushing blow” for the sector, particularly as recent data from Public Health England shows the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases related to hospitality remains low – government data shows that just 5% of infections out of the home are related to hospitality.
Of the 729 new acute respiratory incidents reported by Public Health England in week 37 (7 September to 13 September), 228 were confirmed Covid-19 cases found in care homes and 110 were from workplace settings.
By comparison, only 25 incidents were related to food outlet or restaurant settings, and 39 were from the ‘other’ settings category.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, warned the proposed measures for England would make it harder to control the spread of the virus.
“These restrictions will come as another crushing blow for many hospitality businesses struggling to recover, so it’s crucial these new rules are applied with flexibility,” Nicholls warned. “A hard close time is bad for business and bad for controlling the virus – we need to allow time for people to disperse over a longer period.
“It is hard to understand how these measures are the solution to fighting the disease when government data shows that just 5% of infections out of the home are related to hospitality. Where such restrictions have been put in place locally they have not cut infection rates, merely damaged business and cost jobs.”