Leeds hospitality workers “deflated” following announcement of new Covid restrictions

Hospitality firms across Leeds are experiencing mass cancellations following new Covid restrictions announced on Wednesday, December 8.

After a difficult year, many establishments were hoping to return to normality this festive period.

Yet, with the latest Plan B announcement reintroducing guidance to work from home if you can, spirits are no longer too high.

Maisie Waters, venue manager at Chow Down Winter Village in Leeds, said: “Especially with the new variant and new restrictions, it’s just really difficult.

“We will have bookings of like 20 people and then 12 of them can’t come because they are isolating or for fear of Covid, which is obviously really hard to contend with when you are trying to run a business.”

With Christmas just around the corner, the news is leaving hospitality firms feeling very uncertain.

“We have a lot of corporate bookings in for the Christmas period right through up until the 29th, so it leaves the question whether companies let their Christmas parties take place,” Waters added.

“I imagine lots of companies will want to cancel, which is very difficult for us when these bookings are up to 100 people.”

This concern is echoed by Lauren Patterson, assistant manager at Lamberts Pub in Horsforth: “Our main worry now is the New Year and if there are any potential closures we may have to face.”

The restrictions have already proven controversial in light of the recent revelation of the Conservative Downing Street Christmas party in 2020.

The hospitality industry has already been facing stock and staff shortages over the last few months.

Josh Moss, general manager of Ernie’s Bar in Horsforth, said: “We have had massive issues regarding stock as there was a huge backlog of certain things from abroad that had lots of factors – Covid, Brexit, and even the Suez Canal incident.

“Finding staff is really difficult because the market now is very competitive, and the supply of staff doesn’t meet the demand.”

With the Treasury’s current plans to remove VAT relief and return to the pre-pandemic level of 20% in April 2022, frustration is certainly growing.

“We can’t charge people triple the price for a pint because it has cost us triple the price to pay for things,” Waters said.

“It’s deflating the fact that everyone puts so much time, effort and care into stuff like this, and the number one reason you do it is that people have a nice time – that’s what the hospitality industry is about.

“There’s just a lot of variables that make it a very uncertain time to work in hospitality.”

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