The British government has announced another £1 billion in bailouts for the struggling hospitality sector amid concerns that England will once again be plunged into lockdown during the winter.
On Tuesday, the Treasury Department said that it would be providing pubs, restaurants, bars and other hospitality sector businesses after many were hard hit by customer cancellations over fears of another lockdown during the Christmas season.
Venues will be able to apply for one-time grants of up to £6,000 in order to ease the strain placed on their businesses by the indecisive government stance on locking down the nation again.
The grants will be sent out through local councils, which will also be granted an additional £100 million in discretionary funds. The government will also subsidise small businesses for staff sick pay of up to two weeks pay should a worker contract the Chinese coronavirus.
Announcing the bailout, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak said: “We recognise that the spread of the Omicron variant means businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors are facing huge uncertainty, at a crucial time.
“So we’re stepping in with £1 billion of support, including a new grant scheme, the reintroduction of the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme and further funding released through the Culture Recovery Fund.”
“Ultimately the best thing we can do to support businesses is to get the virus under control, so I urge everyone to Get Boosted Now,” Sunak urged.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson seconded the call for people to get a booster shot, adding: “With the surge in Omicron cases, people are rightly exercising more caution as they go about their lives, which is impacting our hospitality, leisure and cultural sectors at what is typically the busiest time of the year.”
Just 40% of pubs were actually able to open this week. Thousands closed their doors for good during the year of government lockdowns, just the latest tragedy to befall the struggling British pub trade battling high taxes and cut-price supermarket booze https://t.co/9YbwXAxhCq
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 13, 2021
The latest bailout comes as the ONS revealed that the government borrowed a staggering £136 billion in the fiscal year leading up to November, with the national debt rising to 96 per cent of the UK’s GDP at £2.3 trillion.
It is unclear if the latest bailout will help ease tensions between the government and the hospitality sector, with many blaming the government for destroying their businesses.
The chief executive of the Shepherd Neame brewery in Kent, Jonathan Neame specifically signalled out the Cheif Medical Officer of England Chris Whitty for scaring away customers during a Downing Street press conference last week.
“From last week we saw a significant drop in London, certain outlets down 60 to 70 per cent,” he told the BBC’s Today programme per The Times.
“It’s a very precarious situation. We’re still taking deliveries of beer, we’re still taking deliveries of food, but of course, there’s a risk for anybody that’s taking that into the pub that that could all be wasted if further restrictions are suddenly brought in.”
“The circumstances exist for compensation right now.”
Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter @KurtZindulka