On Saturday 27th March, the First Minister stated that he will this week “give hospitality the certainty it is waiting for”.
The Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective (WIRC) has welcomed this news.
Simon Wright, of Wrights Food Emporium in Llanarthne said,
“This is good news, even if somewhat overdue. We are looking forward to hearing dates for both outside and inside opening, so that independent restaurants, cafes and pubs can begin preparing their venues as safe places to visit, eat and drink. Only that can give us the certainty we need.”
Ahead of Thursday’s announcement, the WIRC is keen to re-state the reality for independent hospitality businesses in Wales:
- WIRC member surveys show that only 40% of Independent Welsh hospitality businesses would be in a position to open outdoors only.
- 83% of those that can open outdoors say they will achieve less than 50% of normal turnover.
- 90% of businesses say they will achieve a maximum of 75% of normal turnover or less when allowed to open indoors 40% say they will achieve less than 50% of turnover.
- On average independent hospitality businesses say they need to achieve at least 80% of normal turnover to be financially viable.
Welsh Government financial support has been crucial in sustaining many independent hospitality businesses to date, although many others have closed, and thousands of jobs have already been lost. Yet businesses have been keen to highlight that the sector-specific financial support from Welsh Government falls well short of what is needed to meet costs whilst in lockdown or trading under restrictions.
But WIRC members have also stated that the industry feels badly misled by recent government communications around the support available, and desperately needs the security of further assistance to cover the remaining period of lockdown and restrictions.
“The last round of financial support from Welsh Government was to cover the period up to 31st March, and this was clear in all documentation that supported the distribution of those funds. It appears that Welsh Government are now attempting to move the goalposts and say that funding was intended to cover the entire period until post-election. In other words, until at least May 6th and probably beyond that,” explained Natalie Isaac, WIRC member and Director of the Bar 44 in Cardiff, Penarth & Bristol, and Asador 44 in Cardiff.
The situation is particularly acute for businesses that currently have less than 10 full time employees, as they were excluded from the most recent round of ERF Special Sector Support.
Dan Warder from Top Joe's pizzeria in Narberth and Tenby said,
“The forthcoming election cannot and should not be used as an excuse to justify the black hole in financial assistance – that date has been in the diary for years.
WIRC members are urging the First Minister to bring the certainty he has promised on reopening, and to bring the same clarity to funding – by ending attempts to rework dates – and by committing to additional financial help to cover costs whilst the independent restaurants, pubs and cafes of Wales are under continued restrictions.”