Eat out to help out sign

Source: Shutterstock/ Willy Barton

I feel as though many operators need to channel the spirit of Muhammad Ali in the most famous of fights against Joe Frazier.

Last week’s announcement of new restrictions and a 10pm curfew was yet another body blow to a sector only lacking the knockout punch.

Start to think about table service only. How does McDonald’s operate? How do food halls in centres operate? Quick-service restaurants all fall into the same category, yet there is no absolute clarity in how this affects them. Perhaps that measure is just aimed at pubs?

And then there is closing at 10pm. No longer can restaurants turn their covers in the evening, having already been restricted by social distancing. Fancy a celebration? Forget it. Last sitting at 8.30pm and you absolutely must leave by 10pm.

The impact will be felt by everyone, not least all the wonderful larger venues that make so much of their revenue on Thursday nights and weekends, which is ramped up in the later hours until 11pm or midnight as people indulge that little bit more.

I fully understand that we do not want and are not encouraging a younger demographic to vertically drink without food. That is a very legitimate aim by the government, but the measures announced last week are a blunt instrument.

Finally, just as offices start to gain the feeling of being back together again, they are told to go back home for six months. Sadly, this means fewer people on the streets of our cities, just as they were finding tempo.

I fail to understand the logic of the new restrictions and I pray the hospitality sector is able to endure these damaging blows, which only world-class businesses can sustain.

As with so much of this pandemic, the industry is holding its breath in anticipation that Rishi Sunak still has a few counter-punches left.

Ted Schama, managing director, Shelley Sandzer