UK restaurants facing a lonely Christmas due to strict Covid-19 restrictions

Posted Dec 23, 2020

The introduction of new tier 4 social distancing measures has meant the immediate closure of pubs, bars, restaurants, and hotels as the UK grapples with surging Covid-19 infection rates. Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently stunned the nation by backtracking on a pledge for small groups to meet over the festive period, slapping a ‘no mixing, no travel’ ban on London and the South East of the country, ruining Christmas for millions of people.

Recent reports suggested that Coronavirus infections are nearing 40,000 per day in the UK, with nearly 700 deaths logged yesterday. For hotel and restaurant owners, the future looks bleak, with many providers planning never to reopen or at best return with a skeleton staff once restrictions are restricted around Spring time. Meanwhile the UK government is continuing the rollout of its vaccination programme, with NHS staff and vulnerable elderly people top of the list.

Industry experts have however warned of the huge damage these restrictions will do to the wider UK economy. Speaking to Restaurant Dive Matthew Stubbs, CEO & Founder of BookingTek said:

“The surge in Covid-19 infections and corresponding tier 3 and 4 restrictions across swathes of the country are another hammer blow to the hospitality sector. Whilst public safety must remain a top priority, it is vital to remember that the industry employs millions of people, who will be going into Christmas with uncertainty around how long it will be before they can get back to work.

Stubbs added, “Throughout this crisis, restaurants, bars, and hotels have gone the extra mile to implement the highest standards of social distancing measures to keep customers safe. From hand sanitizer, rigorous track and trace checking, table service to mandatory face coverings, the industry has followed the rulebook and still found itself being forced to shut down.

“Once the infection rate starts to decline, the harsh reality is that a significant portion of hospitality venues will never reopen again. Those that do so will need complete support from customers and access to the necessary technical capabilities to keep trading without compromising customer safety.

“That’s why we’ve launched the TableRes app which enables full-service restaurant customers to reserve a table and on arrival view the full menu, order, and then pay at the table, eliminating all contact with staff and physical items like paper menus, bills and credit cards. With takeout business now the only form of trade for most restaurants, the TableRes App helps by allowing customers to find the closest location in a chain, see the menu, order directly with the restaurant (no third-party fees) and pre-pay for delivery, or pick up at the counter or kerbside – all on their smartphone.”