Emily Thornberry Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury
Thank you for contacting me about your concerns for the hospitality industry.
Since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, I have been contacted by many constituents who either work in hospitality or care deeply about the future of the industry.
Prior to new national lockdown that was imposed in England on 5 November, Coronavirus restrictions had meant that pubs, bars and restaurants were unable to operate at full capacity and they had to close their doors at 10pm. On top of that, the introduction of Tier 2 restrictions in London had been difficult for hospitality businesses. As different households became unable to mix indoors, an inevitable drop in bookings followed, limiting custom even further.
Labour welcome the government’s decision to continue the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This extension will mean that hospitality staff who will be unable to work during the four-week lockdown will have the opportunity to be furloughed and continue to receive 80% of their wages.
Over the past couple of weeks, constituents have been right to point out that no conclusive evidence was ever presented that a 10pm curfew resulted in a reduction in the reproduction rate of the Coronavirus. That is why Labour had been pushing the government to urgently review and publish the evidence for their 10pm curfew, which has had a huge negative financial impact on hospitality businesses.
The government’s initial decision not to allow hospitality businesses to offer takeaway alcohol during their four-week closure was announced without evidence and without explanation. I am very pleased that the government have since declared a U-turn, allowing pubs, bars and restaurants to continue to sell takeaway alcohol despite their temporary closure.
Labour had also been calling on the government to impose a two-to-three week “circuit breaker” lockdown since 13 October. We believe that it is right that we follow scientific advice, which is why we urged the government to use the half-term holiday in England to fix testing, protect our NHS and save lives. The government refused to listen and instead of getting a grip on the virus, they have lost control of it. We have all been let down by this Tory government and we must now all live with the consequences of their incompetence.
Please be assured that Labour will continue to hold the Tories to account for their abysmal response to the Coronavirus pandemic. We are demanding that the financial help the government makes available to businesses operating in the hospitality industry is adequate, and that this time nobody is left behind.
I sincerely hope that you and your loved ones are keeping safe and well. Thank you again for contacting me about this important subject and if you have any further points you would like to raise, please do not hesitate to get back in touch.
The Rt Hon. Emily Thornberry MP
Islington South and Finsbury