Salisbury hospitality: from Eat Out to Help Out to lockdown 2

Just three months ago pubs, restaurants and cafes were given the big boost they deserved to make up for lost income through the Eat Out to Help Out.

Overall, the government scheme was well-received in Salisbury with many venues expanding the offer into September. But as coronavirus cases continued to rise, the government said it had no option but to announce a second lockdown.

On Thursday, much of the hospitality industry will have to close again – a move that to some extent was to be expected but one that inevitably, raises more questions than answers.

The Cathedral Hotel is among the establishments that will have to shut as a result of Saturday’s announcement.

Manager Tommy Roberts said the news came as no surprise but it’s difficult to tell whether it was the right decision.

He said: “I don’t think [a national lockdown] is justified although it gives more clarity. Wiltshire and Salisbury seem to have a low infection rate, however the tier system did seem to cause a lot of confusion about what you could and couldn’t do. At the very least with a national lockdown it will be clear what you can and can’t do.”

According to Mr Roberts, allowing schools and universities to remain open is debatable as cities with big universities seem to be the worst affected.

Supermarkets, he says, are also places where there should be more control.

“From my point of view, I was in Tesco’s in Salisbury and lots of people weren’t wearing face masks, hardly anybody was socially distanced, people were picking things up and putting them back on the shelves. It seems unfair that the hospitality has to jump through lots of hoops with the 10pm curfew and track and trace yet you can go to Tesco or Sainsbury’s and they don’t have to do any of that.

“They don’t see the hospitality as much as a daily necessity although it is,” he added.

Ultimately, the support received during the summer through the Eat Out to Help Out scheme “seems to be all in vain because here we are two days before we close again”.

A second lockdown seems necessary to avoid harsher restrictions at Christmas, but for businesses like his, Christmas this year “will look very very different,” Mr Roberts said.

“It depends how we come out of lockdown but with the rule of six and no more than two households being allowed to mix, it’s not much of a Christmas party, is it?

“There will be no office parties or staff parties so we may just have a few Christmas Day bookings.”

Whether the strict measures will actually end on December 2, allowing businesses to make profits in the run up to Christmas, depends on the infection rate falling below 1.

“Let’s hope so, we can only hope”.

Salisbury Journal | News