Hospitality owners hopeful for ‘freedom day’ but staffing worries and supply issues remain

Pub and restaurant owners say 19 July will bring hope to the industry but fear business will still be hit by staff shortages and supply issues.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the UK’s forthcoming ‘freedom day’ will mark the end of restrictions, allowing hospitality operators to allow queuing at the bar and more tables in dining rooms.

But while a positive step towards beating Covid-19 and trading profitably, bosses are still under pressure.

The supply chain is not what it was, we’re low on lorry drivers, and therefore stock.

Ashley Kollakowski, who owns restaurants in Leeds, including his soon to open House of Fu, told iNews: “I’m very lucky to have lots of outside space, so haven’t been hit so hard by restrictions. I really feel for business owners who just can’t make any money at the moment.

“It’s been really tough for everyone. Our profits have been hit hard. So I’m excited to reopen properly and get back to normal, and we will increase our capacity.

“But I’m also doing this with worry. We can’t afford to lose staff – customers are much easier to find than chefs at the moment. And I don’t want to have to close due to an outbreak.

Craig Webb, the general manager at the Cotswolds House Hotel and the Noel Arms in Oxfordshire, said it will be good to be back, but wonders whether he can satiate the demand.

“We’re recovering financially at the moment and need to get back to normal to carry on with that”, he explained.

“It will be brilliant to see our venues fully alive again, with more tables and no face masks. “It costs us more to do table service all the time – it’s added pressure on staff, and is much less cost-effective. Working with restrictions is more labour intensive and isn’t real hospitality.

“It’s a tradition here, queuing at the bar, people talking to one another – seeing locals interact with tourists, and staff pour pints.

“But I’m also thinking about demand – the extra laundry, ordering more beer, getting extra food.

The supply chain is not what it was, we’re low on lorry drivers, and therefore stock.

“We’re also down 35 per cent on staff and more can go at any time due to Track & Trace.”

Source: iNews