Why delaying reopening could be so devastating to our economy, health

Memo Boris Johnson re June 21: Reasons why experts say delaying reopening could be so devastating to our economy and health

  • The Mail examines the impact of continuing restrictions on five key sectors
  • Weddings, nightclubs, pubs and restaurants, theatres and live sports have all been hit hard by coronavirus and accompanying lockdown restrictions
  • The industries have been gearing up to reopen fully on June 21

In less than a fortnight, Boris Johnson will announce whether the final stage of lockdown easing will take place as planned on June 21. Here, the Mail examines the impact of continuing restrictions on five key sectors: 

WEDDINGS

Key restriction: 30-person cap

Around 50,000 weddings are at risk of cancellation if the Government delays unlocking the industry by a month after June 21.

Experts say the sector is on the brink of collapse and couples will lose thousands of pounds if restrictions on ceremonies remain in place.

Sarah Haywood, from the UK Weddings Taskforce, said: ‘Where weddings are concerned, every day counts.

‘If just one wedding doesn’t go ahead, the repercussions are huge. Funds cannot be recovered if that date is not met. Weddings have a ramp-up time – there is a large local, regional and national supply chain.

‘Food and flowers have already been ordered, staff on furlough have been brought back, new staff have been hired and trained. This accounts to tens of millions of pounds that cannot be recovered.’

Around 50,000 weddings are at risk of cancellation if the Government delays unlocking the industry by a month after June 21 [Stock image]

Wedding planner Michelle Jacobs, from London, said weddings of up to 30 people were ‘commercially unviable’ for large swathes of the sector, meaning it cannot ‘bounce back’ as hoped.

She added: ‘For small weddings, only photographers and videographers can really claim the same rates.

‘But caterers, florists, planners and entertainers have to completely scale back their costs. We need big weddings to go ahead to properly recover our losses.’

The industry is worth an estimated £14.7 billion and employs around 400,000 workers – many of whom are women.

Key figure: 50,000 weddings could be cancelled if easing is delayed

NIGHTCLUBS

Key restriction: Closed under current regulations

Britain’s nightclub and live music industry will take a £97 million sales hit if social distancing remains in place for another month.

The industry has already shed 600,000 of its 1.5 million workers following 15 months of almost complete closure. Some companies said their sales were still down by as much as 80 per cent, with many of the nation’s 1,150 nightclubs shut and capacity severely constrained at venues which have hastily been converted into bars.

Brighton Pier Group, which has eight clubs, has opened only half of them fully, while the remaining four are operating at half capacity. Chief executive Anne Ackord said: ‘Our takings have been decimated. 

‘What the nightclub industry needs is clarity on reopening. We cannot open a nightclub in two weeks. 

Britain’s nightclub and live music industry will take a £97 million sales hit if social distancing remains in place for another month [Stock image]

‘If Boris is going to announce it on June 14, you cannot employ and train enough people, get systems in place and order stock in that time. And if there’s further delays we will need more support.’

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said £97 million was a ‘monumental figure to lose’.

‘Late-night bars and clubs have spent money so they can open their doors. Many will have over-committed and brought staff off furlough. It shows the Government does not understand our industry.’

Key figure: The industry will take a £97 million sales hit if easing is delayed

PUBS AND RESTAURANTS

Key restriction: Social distancing restricts capacity

A quarter of pubs, bars, restaurants and social clubs are unable to reopen until all restrictions are lifted fully, putting hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk. 

The hospitality sector will lose £3 billion of sales per month if social distancing remains, placing the jobs of 700,000 staff still on furlough in peril.

Pubs are losing £180 million a week, the British Beer and Pub Association said – enough to buy a pint of beer for every adult in the UK.

And 25,000 venues, including 4,000 pubs, are still shut, according to data from AlixPartners and CGA.

A quarter of pubs, bars, restaurants and social clubs are unable to reopen until all restrictions are lifted fully, putting hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk [Stock image]

Restaurants and pubs that can open have slashed capacity to accommodate the one-metre plus rule, with many running at just 60 per cent of pre-virus levels.

The industry will also be forced to foot an extra £92 million monthly bill for business rates from July 1 when relief is substantially reduced.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: ‘Despite 95 per cent of pubs reopening, the heavy restrictions they still face are hampering trade and viability. As many as 2,000 pubs are still unable to reopen because of the restrictions, which jeopardise the recovery of the sector.

‘More and more people are getting the vaccine each day. It’s time for the restrictions on our freedoms to be replaced by the protection of the vaccination and for businesses to get back to trading as normal. The time is ticking on the Government to stick to its roadmap and remove all restrictions on June 21.’

Key figure: £3 billion a month will be lost in sales if social distancing remains

THEATRES

Key restriction: Social distancing restricts capacity

Thousands of theatres, cinemas and other indoor entertainment venues remain under stringent restrictions, despite being allowed to reopen last month.

Many theatres and other venues have remained shut because it is not profitable to operate with smaller audiences.

Impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber – who has three major musicals set to reopen on the West End next month – said the impact of a delay past June 21 would be ‘incalculable’. He said not allowing theatres to operate with full capacity would be ‘devastating’ and could be the ‘last hammer blow’ for the sector.

Thousands of theatres, cinemas and other indoor entertainment venues remain under stringent restrictions, despite being allowed to reopen last month [Stock image]

‘One can keep going on saying that, but there does come a point where you can’t go on really any more,’ he said.

Robert Hayton, of real estate adviser Altus Group, said leisure operators would need more financial help if restrictions were not removed on June 21. He added: ‘If there is a deviation from the roadmap, Covid reliefs must be revisited as large hospitality and leisure operators will essentially be returned to normal level of business rates.’

Key figure: 4,000 indoor venues affected

LIVE SPORT

Key restriction: Social distancing limits crowds

A delay in the cap on spectators attending live sports matches indoors and outdoors will hit clubs’ finances. 

Outdoor seated venues can have up to 10,000 fans in attendance – or a quarter-full, whichever is lower – but indoor venues are capped at 1,000 people or 50 per cent capacity.

A delay in the cap on spectators attending live sports matches indoors and outdoors will hit clubs’ finances [Stock image]

English Football League chairman Rick Parry said that for some clubs, playing games behind closed doors is financially ‘almost neutral, and for many clubs, it could actually cost them to play because they will have the cost of staging games’.

While the restrictions hit revenues, they can also affect play. Football manager Jose Mourinho said earlier this year that a full stadium can help a team, adding: ‘I believe that (empty stadiums) has an impact in some of the results.’

Key figure: Sport contributed £17 billion to the economy in 2019

Lockdown’s crippling toll on our mental health 

The mental toll of the pandemic is deeply ingrained – and impossible to overcome in lockdown, experts warn.

Robert Dingwall, professor of sociology at Nottingham Trent University, called for restrictions to be eased to avoid more ‘delay and uncertainty’.

‘I personally don’t see any case for delay,’ he said. ‘From a societal point of view, I think it’s really important that we go ahead on June 21.

‘I think we need to recognise the way in which levels of fear and anxiety in the population have been amplified over the last 15 months or so.

‘We’ve got to look at the collateral damage in terms of untreated cancers, untreated heart conditions, all of the other things people suffer from.’

Professor Dingwall added: ‘We have got to think about the impact of economic damage that would be caused by further periods of delay and uncertainty.’

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