Bristol hoteliers voice anger over claims they will be last to open when lockdown eases

February 18, 2021

Hoteliers in Bristol have hit out at suggestions that the industry will be among the last to reopen when lockdown restrictions ease over the next few months, arguing their venues are safer than shopping centres and grocery stores.

The Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA), which represents 40 establishments operating 4,000 rooms in and around the city, says its members are angry at reported comments from Prime Minister Boris Johnson that hospitality businesses could have to wait until July before they are allowed to reopen. 

According to the reports, restrictions on pubs and restaurants are likely to be eased first in a “gradual and phased” relaxation of Covid rules – meaning, says the BHA, that hotels will again be in the position of ‘first to close, last to open’.

The Prime Minister was quoted in the media as saying: “You have to remember from last year that we opened up hospitality fully as one of the last things that we did because there is obviously an extra risk of transmission from hospitality.”

BHA chair Raphael Herzog, pictured, responded: “For some time now, we have been asking for hotels to be treated fairly and equally to the likes of non-essential shops.

“We have all invested significantly in making sure our premises are as Covid-safe as they can possibly be.

“It’s safer to stay in a hotel having a drink at a table, with dinner served, than it is visiting a shopping mall or a grocery store.

“Yet we are being made to wait longer than most other sectors before we can return.” 

The BHA recently called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to ease the plight of the industry when he presents his Budget on March 3.

Its ‘wish list’ calls for the retention of the furlough scheme, extending the reduced rate of VAT for hospitality businesses for another year and introducing a 100% holiday on business rates covering the next financial year.

Mr Herzog,  who is general manager of the De Vere Tortworth Court in South Gloucestershire, added: “As soon as we are able to re-open, we can start to employ more people, support our local suppliers and build on our sense of local pride, investing in our premises and places.

“Most importantly, we can go back to doing what we do best, providing a fantastic experience for our customers and bringing people in our community together.

“We’ve always been among the first businesses to close and the last to be allowed to re-open.

“All we are asking is to be treated fairly, and in the same way as non-essential shops. We do not want to see unhelpful restrictions like a 10pm curfew, only being allowed to serve alcohol with substantial meals and a confusing tier system.

“We need a clear roadmap, a clear strategy, a commitment to providing us with more support, and we need to be treated fairly.”

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