Hartlepool pubs and restaurants see wave of Covid cancellations - and call on Government for support
Hartlepool pubs and restaurants are calling on the Government for more support after rising Covid fears and new guidance have seen festive customers stay away or cancel.
Christmas is traditionally the hospitality industry’s busiest and most valuable time of the year.
But town licensees are reporting trade is down by up to 65% and they have been hit by a wave of Christmas cancellations.
It follows last week’s Plan B rules over concerns of the new Omicron variant.
Ministers have also urged people to be selective about socialising, and businesses fear further restrictions may be imposed.
Darab Rezai, chairman of Hartlepool Licensees Association, said: “The Government is encouraging people to work from home so indirectly they’re telling people not to go out.
"As a result, people are cancelling their bookings. There are quite a lot of restaurants in the town where it’s supposed to be their busiest time and they are quiet.
"Talking to people numbers are down by a minimum of 40% up to 65%.
“Quite a lot of places that used to open on Christmas Day have decided not to open.”
In Wales, the government is bringing back two-metre social distancing and the ‘rule of six’ from December 27.
Mr Rezai added: "It is very important to know what is happening and at the same time, are we going to get any support?”
He said cutting VAT for the industry to 5% would be welcome and highlighted the importance of hospitality for employment.
Due to the uncertainty, The Raby Arms pub and restaurant at Hart has decided not to serve food on Christmas Day this year.
Owner Kate Bruns said: It’s definitely less busy. We’ve had a lot of bookings for larger parties where quite last minute they are cancelling or numbers have massively diminished.
"Every day for the last couple of weeks we’ve been expecting that busy period and we’re just not getting it.”
Kate supported calls for more Government support adding: “Because none of us know what’s happening, it’s hard to plan.”
At the end of last week, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak held talks with hospitality bosses, but has so far stopped short of offering renewed funding support.