Dermot King, the CEO of pub group Oakman Inns, has offered to forego his £250,000 government grant if his venues can be used as vaccination centres.
Under the business grants scheme outlined by Rishi Sunak, Oakman Inns would have received over £250,000 over the next four months, but King would rather forego the grant to help the government pay for a quick roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine.
“The only route to any normality is through mass vaccination and for that the NHS needs to be able to work at scale. The entire hospitality industry is desperate to re-open as quickly as possible before we have huge scale redundancies across the sector,” King said.
He would like to see pubs and restaurants being used as vaccination centres in order to be able to speed up the roll-out of the vaccine.
“Our pubs have large indoor spaces and in some cases large car parks and accommodation, which could accommodate large numbers of people around the clock.
“Clearly, the money offered by the Chancellor yesterday would help us in the short-term, but realistically the only way all of us can get back to normal is to get the country vaccinated,” King said.
“We would rather let the government keep its hand-out to invest it in using hospitality venues as vaccination centres for the greater good of all.
“The hospitality sector has the venues, it has the infrastructure, the venues are sitting empty, and our offer even includes a contribution towards the cost of the scheme.
“We want to help the government and the people of the UK beat Covid, because the quicker we’re vaccinated, the more lives we save, the more jobs we save, the more businesses we save, and we’re prepared to do whatever it takes to see that happen,” he added. The Oakman Group employs around 1,000 people and operates 28 pubs in England.