Coronavirus: Hospitality sector under pressure as UK mulls over potential clampdown on socialising

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Hospitality stocks are bracing themselves as the government is looking to clamp down on socialising to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said the Prime Minister is to announce further restrictions on Tuesday but did not rule out pubs may be closed by the weekend.

READ: Pubs, restaurants and airlines hit by new coronavirus restrictions in England, vaccine trial pause

“It’s not a no, and it’s not a yes, we’ve been working on this all weekend, we haven’t taken the final decisions about what we want to do in response to the surge that we’ve seen in the last two weeks,” Hancock told ITV’s This Morning.

In an official briefing televised earlier on Monday, Chief Medical Adviser Chris Whitty noted “unnecessary links between households” need to be broken “break because that is the way in which this virus is transmitted.”

“This means reducing social contacts whether they are at work, and this is where we have enormous gratitude to all the businesses for example who have worked so hard to make their environments Covid-secure to reduce the risk, and also in social environments,” Whitty said.

“We all know we cannot do this without some significant downsides.”

Lockdown rumours

According to the BBC, ministers are unlikely to enforce a new national lockdown because of the damage on short-term economic recovery, however there are rumours of a ‘mini lockdown’ of two weeks to try cut down infections as much as possible.

The government is also reportedly realising that local lockdowns are no longer working since the virus is now spread across the country rather than in certain hotspots.

Last week Westminster placed further restrictions on the North west of England, banning residents to meet people outside their households or support bubble in private locations, while leisure and entertainment venues are now required to close between 10pm and 5am.

Residents were also advised to avoid public transport except for essential purposes such as going to school or to work.

Shares pain

London-listed pubs took a hit on Monday morning, with Mitchells & Butlers (LON:MAB) down 16% to 117.8p, Marston’s (LON:MARS) down 15% to 46.72p, JD Wetherspoons (LON:JDW) down 9% to 772p, Young’s (LON:YNGA) down 6% to 912p and Fuller, Smith & Turner (LON:FSTA) dipping only 1% to 563p.

Food venues weren’t faring much better, with Restaurant Group (LON:RTN) down 15% 39.78p, Loungers (LON:LGRS) down 11% to 147p while Franco Manca owner Fulham Shore (LON:FUL) shed 10% to 8p.

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