Tom Kerridge: 'It feels like there's a reactive approach to the situation rather than proactive'

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge is just one of many chefs and restaurateurs to have shared his restaurant's tally of cancellations on social media in the past week.

Restaurants are seeing ever more cancellations pouring in after Parliament voted in favour of new Covid restrictions yesterday, including covid passes and advice to work from home where possible.

We have all been witness to posts about dozens of cancellations in succession in the past week since the government announced that tougher rules would be put in place to tackle the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus - but many are now left with massive revenue losses and no government support.

A study by UKHospitality has estimated that the losses in the industry under 'Plan B' will see a 40 percent decrease in revenue for December - usually the most lucrative month of the year for many businesses.

Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge is just one of many chefs and restaurateurs to have shared his restaurant's tally of cancellations on social media in the past week, prompting questions as to whether restaurants should have simply been asked to close, or be compensated for the loss of revenue resulting from the restrictions.

πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡ more of this from household names ❀️

+2,000 covers πŸ‘‰CANCELLEDπŸ‘ˆ so far for this week

πŸ‘‰ Not next week
πŸ‘‰ or the week after
πŸ‘‰ or the week after that

πŸ‘‰ this week 🀯🀯🀯

Support with ‘further measures’ is all well & good, but what about NOW???


— Tim Foster (@YummyTim) December 14, 2021

The tsunami of cancellations in #hospitality is going to be catastrophic for the industry. Staff will lose their job and income between now and January without any hope of getting a new one. Not only that but I fear this will increase the staff shortage even further.

— Fred Sirieix (@fredsirieix1) December 14, 2021

Covid: 'I've had 3,200 bookings cancelled at my pubs'

— InstituteofLicensing (@Instoflicensing) December 14, 2021

While some have been lucky enough to have enough fresh reservations to make up for lost ones, others haven't been so lucky.

Speaking on Radio 5 this morning, Tom Kerridge said: "From a human level, I completely understand, I know that people are coming up to Christmas, they don't want to self-isolate, everybody wants to enjoy themselves, they want to make sure they can spend their time with their family."

Having received 654 cancellations in six days at one of his restaurants, not only does that represent a massive chunk of revenue there, but, he said: "It's much more of a bigger picture. For me, if that's happening in our space, all of those other work spaces, all of those hospitality venues that are taking those cancellations between now and Christmas, it's a huge difference in revenue.

"It's a very important time for hospitality at this time of year, particularly after the last two years, the huge amount of debt that many hospitality businesses are carrying on their shoulders. This was an opportunity to try and start reclawing our way back into some form of normality.

"Through the messaging that's come across people are cancelling - but there is no support for hospitality industry, there's nothing there." 

When it comes to the Treasury supporting hospitality, especially in light of the support promised to devolved nations to see them through the restrictions they have put in place, he said, "it feels like there's a reactive approach to the situation rather than pro-active."

"If you're telling people to work from home - which I get and I understand -  the knock-on effect that that has on many other businesses that were reliant on lunch trade.

"This is not about my business, this is about the coffee shop around the corner, it's about the newsagent that's in the city, it's about the hairdressers, the nail bars - all of those sort of places that exist because people are in a work environment. 

"The moment that you pull all of that workforce away again, for all of those businesses, the knock-on effect is collossal." 

"There are so many different spaces that are not going to be able to cope." 

What's more, he said, "there's a huge amount of insecurity and worry about future bookings. Our January and February bookings are normally quite strong, particularly in a couple of our places, they're very very quiet - because people are not sure what's going on. 

If that is happening to his businesses, then, he said, it is undoubtedly affecting many others. 

"I saw it as an opportunity with a little bit of a voice to show what's happening in our restaurant - because that's happening in every single restaurant and venue." 

Asked if he himself would cancel a booking in his restaurant had he made one, he said: "Me? No." 

"I would 100% be comfortable going in. I think we have to take personal responsibility, we have to get our booster jabs, as human beings we have to be responsible for ourselves, but I would be very comfortable going to a restaurant to eat, no problem."

"Part of the problem," he added, "is the mixed messaging. You've got to wear a mask to go into a shop to buy a t-shirt or some socks but you can go to a pub and drink eight pints and watch the football. It's so disjointed and so confusing for people. There's no real clarity about what we should be doing. 

"If it is the case that hospitality should be shut down, from a government and a scientific point of view, then hospitality wouldn't have a problem with it, if it was 100 percent fully supported. Those are the issues. The moment that we get shut down, this is when it actually gets shut down, without that financial support a lot of places will close their doors, they will lock them and they will not reopen them in the new year."

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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 15th December 2021

Tom Kerridge: 'It feels like there's a reactive approach to the situation rather than proactive'