Hospitality chefs warn ministers not to reimpose Covid rules
Hotel bosses have warned Boris Johnson that the reimposition of coronavirus rules this winter will force many pubs, bars and restaurants to ‘go to the wall’.
The growing number of Covid-19 cases has sparked growing fears that the government will soon implement its ‘plan B’ of asking people to work from home and wear face masks.
But the hotel industry fears that such a decision will hammer reservations and put “Christmas in danger”.
The government has insisted that the triggering of “plan B” is not imminent, with the current focus being on the deployment of booster vaccines.
But ministers set a worrying tone this morning saying the plan was “there for a reason.”
Hotel bosses have warned Boris Johnson that reimposing coronavirus rules this winter will force many pubs, bars and restaurants to ‘go to the wall’
The hotel industry fears that the imposition of the government’s “plan B” will hammer reservations and put “Christmas in jeopardy.” Soho in central London is pictured
Boris Johnson lobbies experts to cut wait time for recall shot
Last night, Boris Johnson lobbied his science advisers to reduce the wait time for recalls from six months to five months.
If a decision is taken immediately, nearly 9 million more Britons will become eligible for a third dose of the vaccine.
There are growing concerns that the rollout of the Covid recall program has been far too slow, putting the public at risk as cases increase. Right now, those over 50 and those with health concerns are advised to jab six months after their second dose.
Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt yesterday called on ministers to reduce the wait time to five months.
Mr Johnson agreed that this was an “extremely important point”. The six-month deadline was imposed by government advisers in the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI). The Prime Minister’s intervention suggests that the JCVI could be invited to review the schedule.
Speaking on a visit to Northern Ireland, Mr Johnson urged people over 50 to come forward and get their booster shots as soon as they become eligible – saying it was important to ‘ strengthen ”the defenses against the virus.
“The most important thing that people can do now is take that wake-up call. You get the call, get the jab. We’ve done around four million booster jabs already, but as soon as you become eligible, as soon as you get that call, everyone over 50 should get that jab.
“We are in a much better position as we approach fall / winter now than 12 months ago, incomparably better, because of the tremendous level of protection that vaccines offer us.
“90% of the adult population has antibodies right now, but we’re getting stronger.
“The numbers are high, we can see what’s going on, we can see the increase, now is the time to get those booster jabs.”
Health bosses have already called on the government to introduce ‘Plan B’ measures as they warned the NHS was heading for a winter crisis.
More than 50,000 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed yesterday – highest number of cases reported daily since July 17.
During this time, As of Thursday, another 115 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the UK total to 139,146.
The period between Halloween and New Years Eve is vital for the hospitality industry, as bookings normally go up before a lull in January and February.
But there is growing concern in the industry that some coronavirus restrictions will be reimposed before the end of the year, which could hurt consumer confidence.
Mr Johnson has reportedly delayed the decision on whether new Covid curbs are needed after midterm in the hope that the school holidays will stop the surge in cases.
Phil Urban, managing director of Mitchells & Butler, which owns pubs and restaurants including the All Bar One chain, told The Guardian: “People are very nervous and if you go to plan B it puts Christmas in jeopardy.
“The industry is not out of the woods, and just as we regain momentum we would have the rug under our feet.”
Kate Nicholls, managing director of UK Hospitality, echoed a similar sentiment, warning that many businesses were “still fragile”.
“We lost Christmas in its entirety last year, so it’s extremely important for survival, getting you through the dark months of January and February when people aren’t going out as much,” she said.
“Many companies are still fragile. Any sudden at this point could have an impact on viability. People will just go to the wall.
Care Minister Gillian Keegan said this morning the government remained focused on rolling out the vaccine as the primary defense against the virus after being asked why ‘Plan B’ had still not been triggered.
She told Sky News: “We worked out Plan A and Plan B and we just started, as I said five weeks ago, Plan A.
“The most important thing is to do everything I just said: roll out this vaccine, roll out these booster shots.
“And of course we have plan B there. He is here for a reason. But right now we’re really focusing.
“We know the vaccine is the best thing we do and we are really focused on making sure it gets deployed.”
Boris Johnson postpones decision on new Covid borders until after mid-term
Boris Johnson has delayed the decision on whether new Covid curbs are needed until after mid-term in the hopes that the school holidays will stop the surge in cases.
Government sources say ministers were surprised by the rapid spread of the virus among schoolchildren, where infection rates are up to ten times higher than in the general population.
A source said ministers were hoping next week’s mid-term holiday in England would shatter the rise in daily infections, which jumped to over 50,000 yesterday for the first time since July.
The Prime Minister said yesterday that he is sticking to the existing approach for the time being, despite growing clamor from the medical profession to move to the government’s “plan B”.
The introduction of Plan B would see the return of mandatory masks, the introduction of controversial vaccine passports and the revival of home guiding work.
Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, used a press conference in Downing Street earlier this week to warn that the public must play their part to prevent the Covid-19 restrictions from becoming necessary.
Mr Javid said people need to get vaccinated against Covid-19 and all booster shots, as well as do things like wear masks in crowded places.
When asked if people face tighter restrictions if they don’t get reminders or take care inside, Mr Javid said: ‘Am I saying if we don’t do our part, get vaccinated, all these behavioral changes that we can make, that we’re more likely to face restrictions as winter approaches…? So I say that.
“I think we’ve been very clear that we all have a role to play.
“If not enough people get their booster shots, if not enough people eligible for the initial offer, the five million I spoke of who remain unvaccinated, if they don’t show up, if people don’t wear no masks when they really should be in a busy place with a lot of people that they don’t normally hang out with, if they don’t wash their hands and stuff, it’s going to hit us all.
“And that would of course make it more likely that we would have more restrictions. Now we want to avoid them.
“We defined what these restrictions might look like, we defined the Plan B restrictions for example, and we all want to avoid them.”
Mr Javid has warned that Covid-19 cases could reach 100,000 a day as the country enters a difficult winter spell.
He said the UK was under “increased pressure” on the NHS, but the government “will do what it takes to ensure that this pressure does not become unsustainable and that we do not allow the NHS to to be overwhelmed “.
Deaths “thankfully remain low” for now, he said, but added: “We always knew that the winter months would be the biggest threat to our path to recovery.”
The government has launched a media blitz to encourage more people to accept the offer of a Covid-19 booster shot.
The nationwide advertising campaign will be broadcast on outdoor billboards, community broadcasts and radio and television to support the national immunization campaign.