In order to protect their employees, restaurants go into self-lockdown mode

In order to protect their employees, restaurants go into self-lockdown mode

Many hospitality facilities are straining to meet demand as more and more personnel test positive for the virus.

Despite no furlough support or rate reductions, several businesses have chosen to close for the rest of the year to safeguard their workers.

Staff will be more likely to spend Christmas with their family if they avoid the infection.
In the face of mounting illnesses, Bash Redford, co-owner of Forza Wine in Peckham, London, believes his bar could not stay open.

‘We got two positive cases on Sunday night, eight on Thursday morning.

‘The employee rota was diverse, so they weren't co-workers. With only 31 people, we couldn't possibly do all the bookings we had.'
Following the first shutdown in March last year, Bash said all employees have been testing daily.

It was the first time the wine bar received multiple positives in one morning.

‘They were upset and worried they wouldn't make it home for Christmas,' Bash adds.

‘More folks would have been able to segregate and go home negative had we not closed yesterday.'

However, he realises that ‘a s**t tonne of people will surely not be okay'.
‘December is how many businesses survive January, February, and March,' he adds. Like hibernating.'

He didn't expect furloughs, but says the government should apply tighter regulations and provide financial assistance.

He warns that businesses struggling to survive, with personnel unwell and bookings dropping, may have to lay off more people.

‘It's a disaster for the hospitality business right now. In many ways, it would be preferable if the government announced the closure,' argues Bash.

“Hey there is a government mandate, can we postpone rent for this month?”

161 Food and Drink in Sydenham, southeast London, has decided to close, but will continue to pay employees.
‘We're trying to protect everyone's well-deserved holidays,' he says.

‘If one of the bar guys picked Covid up on Saturday, their Christmas is destroyed.'

‘We see the industry's unhappiness. People are saddened that it has come to this, and we sense that they won't get the help they need; it's almost like it's every man for himself.

Ben, 31, said 161 will keep bringing food and offering its free wine delivery service in South London.

‘We want to be a positive influence in the community. We aim to bring them hope, and if we can do it remotely, we will,' Ben adds.
‘The industry is harsh, but I hope everyone can get through it.

‘The hospitality business is incredibly inventive, as shown during the pandemic.'

Since the first nationwide lockdown, followed by two more and other limitations, hospitality firms have had to think outside the box to survive.

For example, The 10 Cases, which closed for the remainder of the year on Tuesday, is selling lottery tickets for 120 bottles of wine.

Co-owner Will Palmer believes the choice to close was a no-brainer. ‘We had a few cases among personnel and we felt that was unfair on them,' he continues. They were getting nervous about entering. We didn't want them to miss Christmas because they worked so hard to get us back up and running.

‘It was a difficult decision to make at the busiest season.'

No longer paying employees will be a ‘big impact' for the company, but Will argues it is the ‘right thing to do'.

‘It's hard with some people closing and some not, but even those that haven't have lost a lot of reservations and personnel off ill,' he said.

‘At the very least, they should reduce business rates to 5% and reinstate flexible furloughs.'

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