A government minister has suggested the hospitality sector does not require additional financial aid as restaurants appear “pretty full”.
The hospitality industry has called for help including VAT and business rates relief following waves of cancellations this month as fears over the Omicron Covid variant grew.
Ministers have also urged the public to be cautious over the festive period in a bid to curb rising infections of the virus.
However, health minister Gillian Keegan has said “people are still going out”, based on her own personal experience of dining out in London.
Speaking to Sky News, Keegan pointed to a £1bn package of government measures, including £6,000 grants for pubs, bars and restaurants.
She added: “But I have been out a couple of times – my sister is over from the States, so we have been out to a couple of restaurants – and they have been pretty full.
“So, you know, I’m obviously in London at the moment, but I think people are still going out, but they are just taking a lateral flow test before and obviously being a bit more cautious.”
The government is reportedly considering a return to a ‘rule of six’ next year, the Telegraph newspaper suggested today.
Trade groups including UKHospitality have called for an extension to business rates relief and the lower VAT rate.
The British Beer & Pub Association estimated pubs would sell 37m fewer pints and lose out on £297m in trade this Christmas.