Bristol nightlife groups pen open letter to Boris Johnson & Rishi SunakPosted on: 20 Dec 2021
An urgent appeal for support has been launched as businesses across the city deal with the spread of the Omicron variant.
Bristol hospitality, leisure and nightlife groups have come together to write an open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, appealing for government support in response to a drastic drop in winter trade.
Currently in the thick of what should be the busiest time of year in terms of trade, business owners are struggling to deal with a wave of cancellations and low footfall due to uncertainty regarding the new Omicron Covid-19 variant.
Led by the Bristol City Centre BID, the collective of organisations calling for support includes BARBI Bristol, Visit Bristol, Bristol Nights, Business West and the Bristol Food Union.
Addressing the Prime Minister and Chancellor directly, the letter reads: "We are writing to you as the strongest Bristol partnership representing all of our leisure, culture, retail, hospitality and tourism businesses and organisations.
"These businesses are all being increasingly affected by the rising cases of the Omicron variant and the adjustments in government and public health advice.
"With Bristol residents, commuters and those visiting the city taking prudent additional precautions as Christmas approaches, our retail, hospitality, cultural and leisure businesses and organisations are being disproportionately affected.
"This is particularly detrimental for city centres where the government advise is to work from home when you can, office workers in our city have heeded that advise and are staying away in significant numbers."
The Bristol organisations behind the letter also warn of a "dramatic surge in cancellations" during what should be a particularly busy festive period, with businesses across sectors reporting a 45-70% drop compared with previous years.
So what needs to be done?
Noting that quick action is vital given that businesses are already feeling the strain from the past 18 months, nightlife bosses are appealing for the government to take the following measures:
Business rate relief at 100% for all the affected sectors until March 2022
Extending the reduced level of VAT for tourism, leisure and hospitality sector beyond March 2022
Allocate extra funds for local authorities to enable the provision of support grants to businesses being affected by the changes in guidance
Financial support, including sector specific furlough, for those employed and self employed who are affected by the current Omicron situation
A clear commitment to adapt support to reflect the impacts that businesses are suffering as the population is being kept safe
Clear and consistent articulation of the rationale behind any further restrictions or guidance that might become necessary
Urgently address the limitations of the Live Events Reinsurance Scheme to support venues experiencing damaging levels of cancellations
Having recently returned from a Christmas holiday in California, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is understood to be holding crisis talks with hospitality and cultural leaders to formulate support packages for sectors affected by the spread of the Omicron variant.
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