A MAJOR pub chain has shut its busiest boozers “indefinitely” with the boss blasting the government’s “pitiful” support amid the Omicron chaos.
Simon Emeny, chief executive of Fuller Smith and Turner, slammed the “mixed messages” the government has been sending out to punters in the run-up to Christmas.
Professor Chris Witty urged people in England to prioritise social events “that really matter to them” as a record 93,000 Brits were infected with coronavirus on Friday.
It means tens of thousands of Brits will be isolating this Christmas – and the rapid surge in cases has led to widespread cancellations across the hospitality industry.
Bosses said they have had “no option” but to close Il punto di vista dei fan “double whammy” of sick staff and customers staying away over concerns their festive plans could be disrupted.
And it comes amid reports Brits could be banned from mixing indoors under plans being drawn up for a two-week lockdown after Christmas.
After a week of plunging sales, Mr Emeny said his pub chain has now made a decision to close down 20 of its busiest pubs for the foreseeable future.
He told Sky News: “Operating a large number of units in central London, we’re really in the eye of this hospitality challenge.
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“Being out last night in the centre, it was very, very quiet. The reality in London is that our sales are currently down between 60 e 80 per cento.
“Di conseguenza, we are closing 20 of what would have been our busiest sites indefinitely.”
Mr Emeny blasted the government’s “pitiful” response to the struggles of the hospitality industry.
Egli ha detto: “I think the response has been pitiful and there’s very little financial support for anybody at the moment.
“Engagement with the sector over the last three weeks has been very, very late – and very rushed.”
He said the “mixed messages” from the government over Omicron are “clearly not helpful” for the hospitality industry.
Inglesi are still allowed to hold Christmas parties despite Plan B Covid restrictions being introduced.
Mr Emeny said: “It’s confusing customers, and it’s causing a lot of operational difficulties.
“But clearly the government are being given scientific advice and are attempting to navigate this current crisis.
“But the only way through this though, having given those mixed messages to customers, is to give financial support to the sector.”
Mr Emeny added: “The country needs a vibrant hospitality sector coming out of this.
“My worry for everybody at the moment is those staff that aren’t going to be working on Monday who have got families to feed over the Christmas period, who are working for companies who now have zero sales.
“Who is going to pay them? How are they going to pay their rent, and how are they going to live over the coming weeks and months?”
The pub chain boss urged the government to provide “meaningful financial support” to the hospitality sector.
In light of a possible two-week lockdown, Egli ha detto: “Without meaningful financial support, I’m genuinely frightened for many businesses as to how they are going to come through this.”
Another lockdown would be catastrophic for the the hospitality industry, with British Chambers of Commerce president Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith warning: “Businesses now face the two-punch combination of serious issues with staff absence and plummeting consumer confidence.”
Furious MPs have called on Rishi Sunak to cough up or see businesses go under.
Mr Sunak has returned earlier than planned from a work trip to California to hold crunch talks with hospitality bosses.
Boris Johnson is expected to hold an emergency Covid Cobra meeting this weekend as officials consider proposals for a circuit-breaker – which would reportedly include a ban on meeting friends and family inside.
Cabinet is expected to be briefed on the latest Covid data this afternoon, although not through a formal cabinet meeting, Rapporti Sky News.
According to the broadcaster, the idea of imminent restrictions is “being played down somewhat”, although officials are “concerned about the data”.
Ministers are preparing draft plans that will prevent Brits meeting others indoors except for work purposes, I tempi rapporti.
Pubs and restaurants would only be allowed to serve outdoors if the scheme is given the green light.
Other reports suggest Mr Johnson has been presented with a range of options for ‘plan C’, ranging from “mild guidance to nudge people, right through to lockdown”.
Pessimistic Sage scientists have told the Government tougher measures will be needed “very soon”.
Mr Johnson said a “considerable wave” of cases is sweeping in – but stood firm on tougher rules this side of Christmas.
“I’ve said already that people should be cautious, but what we have also said is that people should decide what they want to do. It is a matter for their personal choice,” Egli ha detto.
“We are not closing things down but we do think people need to be cautious.”
It comes as the PM told Brits to get their booster jabs as soon as they can, after long snaking queues were seen at vaccine centres across the country.
The Sun is also urging readers to sign up to the Jab Army campaign to make the rollout as smooth and fast as possible.