It has been just over one year since the discovery of the coronavirus Sars-CoV-2 by Chinese Scientists, the source of a new, lethal respiratory disease that has controlled and overwhelmed the everyday lives of populations worldwide. More than 1.5 million people have died globally as a result of the pandemic, events and holidays were firmly put on hold, and many have had to go without being close to family and friends whilst we have waited for the virus to ease.
For those in the UK, the last year has seen us coming in and out of national lockdowns and the interruption of many social events that we previously took for granted. However, as we see a decline of hospitalisations and the rise of vaccine accessibility – Prime Minister Boris Johnson has officially announced Stage 4 easing of national restrictions, as of the 19th July 2021, a month later than previously anticipated. And many are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, a welcome change for those particularly affected.
During this last year, one sector has seen disruption like no one else – the hospitality sector. Whilst many others have been able to adapt and carry on, not quite as before but enough so, the hospitality sector has struggled to keep up at that same pace. Certain establishments, such as nightclubs and theatres, have seen their door closed for well over a year, a hard hit for some of the normally busiest weekend venues. On top of the loans and grants that have been available industry-wide, such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – commonly referred to as Furlough, Recovery Loan scheme, and Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSP) there have also been industry-specific schemes for those in hospitality to carry them through the last year, such as – the Restart Grant Scheme which will provide one-off grants of up to £18,000 to businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors to help them reopen following the national lockdown. And the Additional Restrictions Grant which supports businesses that are not covered by other grant schemes or where additional funding may be needed.
In December 2020, an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) was established on the Night-Time Economy, with the purpose of “recognising the cultural and economic importance of nightlife to the UK”. They warned the government urgent action was required to prevent the overall extinction of UK Nightlife. However, with cases on the rise and the introduction of new variants at every turn, this seemed unlikely for a long time. However, following cautious testing procedures and trial events, the government finally announced the country’s re-opening, with stage 4 easing of restrictions confirmed to go ahead. This means that whilst some guidance may remain, virtually all of England’s restrictions will end, removing the legal requirement to wear face coverings and lifting capacity limits for all venues and events. This is set to see an unprecedented rise in these industries as the public scrambles for a sense of normality.
Many anticipate the much-awaited reopening to emulate that of the 1920s, more commonly known as ‘the roaring 20s’, where hospitality boomed following the disruption caused by World Wars, followed by an influenza pandemic. Yale professor and social epidemiologist Dr. Nicholas Christakis has said, ‘what’s happening to us may seem to so many people to be alien and unnatural, but plagues are not new to our species – they’re just new to us. However, plagues and pandemics end. They always end.’ With the combination of social distancing measures and the successful rollout of a variety of vaccines, we are predicted to be one of the quickest responses to a global pandemic that our species has ever seen, bringing the pandemic to a heel with much fewer deaths than if it had ended naturally on its own. Naturally, once pandemics end, there is often a period in which people seek out extensive social interaction. Thus, Christakis predicts a second “roaring 20s” just as after the 1918 flu pandemic. In the coming months and years, we will see whether this prophecy rings true, but for now, those in the hospitality sector must prepare for a busy period like none before.
How can Animo help?
If you are preparing for your business to enter this exciting but turbulent period and are looking for expert advice and support in doing so, get in contact with our specialist consultants today! We are always looking for new ways to support business and welcome the opportunity to impart practical guidance. Get in touch today by calling us on +44 (0)207 060 0375, emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by filling out a contact form below.