An Open Letter to National and Local Government on behalf of Chester’s Hospitality Association
The representative business groups are fully supportive of the actions being undertaken by Local Authority Leaders and Chief Executives in neighbouring cities – Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds in highlighting to Government the potentially catastrophic impact of new and anticipated restrictions on
Northern Cities and their economies.
The recent and anticipated extension of new restrictions introduced to our city threaten to and are having an immediate impact on our previously recovering visitor economy. We are aware of several businesses who will soon close, whilst others desperately seek ways of continuing to trade.
The vast majority of hospitality businesses have shown incredible resilience and worked tirelessly to make themselves COVID secure for those visiting and working in them in Chester City Centre. However, in bringing in these new restrictions, which are largely ineffective and impossible to enforce, the Government has also dealt a critical blow to bars, restaurants and hotels. The expected announcement of a further ban on household mixing in any public space – and potential additional measures of societal restrictions – would leave our city in a virtually full lockdown situation leaving many unable to continue trading in the foreseeable future.
Against this backdrop the initial support provided in March was sufficient to help businesses survive. This portfolio of support services was a lifeline for businesses during the first wave of lockdown. Unfortunately, in the immediate future, the suggested measures of the Job Retention Scheme will be
insufficient to enable the city’s visitor economy and hospitality businesses to trade through the impending period of local restrictions and cause considerable damage to our employment and business.
It is essential that any prolonged period of this style of lockdown or extreme restrictions is compensated for with decisive and immediate action, the need to listen to the businesses and people on the ground and to engage properly with Local Authorities to provide targeted economic support is imperative.
The feedback from members of our respective associations demonstrate that without an appropriate level of intervention, there will not be a hospitality sector as we know it. The restrictions will force the closure of successful restaurants, bars and hotels as well as the huge number of businesses which make up the wider supply chain. Whilst this will decimate our sector it will spill over into the wider business eco-system and it is that message that Government need to reflect upon.
We encourage the UK government take heed of the representations made by the leaders of our biggest Northern conurbations and instigate an emergency package of support to enable our visitor economy to sustain itself through this economic shock and emerge in a position of relative strength in the post-COVID period.
Quite simply, for our visitor economy, it is now or never.