MP calls for support for hospitality as Suffolk pub chain loses £90k of bookings
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A Suffolk pub landlord has missed out on an estimated £90,000 in takings after a spate of cancellations amid fears they may contract Covid before Christmas.
Andy Wood, chief executive of Adnams, said the Southwold-based firm is facing a "serious situation" as people opt out of Christmas parties.
He revealed one unnamed tenanted landlord, who runs seven Adnams pubs across Suffolk, has had about 3,000 bookings — at £30 per person — cancelled in the last two days.
Professor Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, told a Downing Street press conference on Wednesday people should prioritise events that "really matter to them" over the festive period in a bid to reduce the spread of Omicron.
As more and more pubs and restaurants are hit by cancellations, Ipswich MP Tom Hunt and town centre businesses have called on the government to increase support for hospitality providers.
Pubs and restaurants across the town would expect to be busier than ever at the time of year, but fears have escalated following the introduction of Plan B Covid measures by Government this week and there has been a wave of cancelled bookings.
Many fear contracting Covid now will rule them out of spending Christmas with relatives.
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Sophie Alexander-Parker, from Ipswich Central, said hospitality businesses badly needed support again: "We have heard from many of our members who have taken a huge hit with cancellations. This is the busiest, the most important time of the year for them and now people are hearing messages like this.
"Everyone understands why the messages are being put out, but the government must be prepared to support the hospitality sector because some of these businesses are really struggling."
Another element of the hospitality sector that is suffering is coffee shops and cafes because shoppers were just concentrating on buying their Christmas gifts and not making an occasion of their trip.
Mr Hunt agreed with the calls for support. He said: "Whatever the rules say at the moment, our lives are beginning to resemble a kind of soft lockdown.
"Therefore it’s only right the Government think very carefully about the support that needs to be provided to the hospitality sector to see them through a very difficult period.
"Clearly the Government have already spent a colossal amount on supporting businesses impacted by Covid restrictions but if the hospitality sector is forced to endure another festive period that falls far short of what they need, support will have to be provided."
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said they understand concerns and are working with business leaders.