‘We’ve been absolutely battered’ - restaurant owner slams government for lack of help during pandemic
- Credit: Archant
A restaurant owner says the hospitality industry has been “absolutely battered” by Covid-19 and is calling on the government to help keep the sector alive.
Chris Newman, owner of Homme Nouveau in Whittlesey which opened in November last year, said he was not surprised that Cambridgeshire and Peterborough were placed in the Tier 2 set of restrictions, which were announced today (Thursday).
Since they reopened in July, Chris has seen a dramatic increase in sales with customers flocking through the doors, before having to close again from November 5 when a second lockdown was imposed.
As part of the new Tier 2 restrictions, hospitality venues can only serve alcohol with substantial meals and must stop taking orders by 10pm.
“From a hospitality point of view, it’s crippling,” he said. “What is classed as a substantial meal could be different to what someone over 65 may eat.
“We have been absolutely battered and there is not any evidence to say otherwise to support us, only the fact we are being punished.”
Another point that frustrates Chris is the relaxation of coronavirus rules over the festive season, where three households can form a ‘Christmas bubble’ between December 23-27, only in a private home, a place of worship or public outdoor spaces.
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December is one of the busiest months of the year for Chris, who has been a chef for 20 years, and was fully booked for Christmas Day.
“We got £1,300 from the government for being closed through November, which will just cover my rent,” he said.
“I took a bounce-back loan to see me through December and January, expecting things to get tougher. Now, we will not have that luxury of Christmas and December trade, so January will be harder than ever.”
Chris, who has won a Covid-secure award for his restaurant’s safety measures, has asked for support from MP Steve Barclay, but is still awaiting a personal response from him.
The chef is also planning on shutting the restaurant throughout January and using the furlough scheme for his seven staff.
But without help and uncertainty on whether areas will be moved into different tiers, Chris believes the industry faces dark times ahead.
“He represents our area and the hospitality industry in our area, and a lot of people said they have tried to get hold of him and never got anything back,” he added.
“There won’t be any pubs left if we carry on like this till March and changing the tier system would be mayhem.
“There is no one in Parliament that wants to stick up for the hospitality sector. This industry has given me everything and the government needs to do something to try and help.”