Why Sheffield hospitality sector will not survive Covid - despite Rishi Sunak's relief grants

I write in what should be a state of festive frivolity. I’m certainly surrounded by the joyful hallmarks of Christmas - a plush, green Christmas tree adorned with golden, twinkling lights, an advent calendar opened with somewhat overzealous punctuality, and a healthy stash of mulled wine – and yet, for those in the hospitality sector, it is oddly not the Christmas of December 2021, but the unravelling of March of 2020.

By Rebecca Nye
Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 5:03 pm
Christmas Tree

It is absolutely the case that public health and the protection of our heroic NHS should be this government’s number one priority. However, the issue of public health does not exist in a vacuum, but in tandem with other pressing matters. Thoughtless, albeit well intentioned remarks that urge us to ‘think carefully’ before attending Christmas parties, to avoid mixing and ‘prioritise’ our social interactions might tick the Covid precaution box, but it leaves many others empty, such as the fate of the hospitality sector - again.

The government has done its utmost to dissuade socialisation without explicitly advising against gathering in hospitality venues, thereby shirking any responsibility to support such venues financially. Once more, hospitality businesses must contend with deserted dining spaces, spoiling stock, countless cancellations and concerned employees. The ramifications extend to suppliers.

There are farmers with fields of unwanted fresh produce, excess livestock and threatened livelihoods. Recent estimations reveal that December takings across the sector will be down by 40% - and all of this at a time so critical for an industry trying to rebuild itself and its depleted workforce after a tumultuous 18 months.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Nobody disputes the necessity of caution when it comes to Covid. However, many businesses in the hospitality sector will not survive another quasi-lockdown. Recent announcements of relief grants offer little respite, covering a week or two of lost earnings at most. Worse, they do nothing to dispel the uncertainty. We urgently need clear guidance from a government that recognises its culpability.

Until then, please continue to bolster your favourite local bars and eateries, visit if you’re able, or else consider a voucher, a takeaway, or even just a smile and kind word - it would mean so much.