Hospitality owners hopeful for ‘freedom day’ but staffing worries and supply issues remain

Pub and restaurant owners say 19 July will bring hope to the industry but fear business will still be hit by staff shortages and supply issues.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the UK’s forthcoming ‘freedom day’ will mark the end of restrictions, allowing hospitality operators to allow queuing at the bar and more tables in dining rooms.

But while a positive step towards beating Covid-19 and trading profitably, bosses are still under pressure.

Ashley Kollakowski, who owns restaurants in Leeds, including his soon to open House of Fu, told i: “I’m very lucky to have lots of outside space, so haven’t been hit so hard by restrictions. I really feel for business owners who just can’t make any money at the moment.

“It’s been really tough for everyone. Our profits have been hit hard. So I’m excited to reopen properly and get back to normal, and we will increase our capacity.

“But I’m also doing this with worry. We can’t afford to lose staff – customers are much easier to find than chefs at the moment. And I don’t want to have to close due to an outbreak.

“In my view, I want to make sure this is it, this is opening day, and if it means stepping back in carefully, that’s how we’ll do it.”

Craig Webb, the general manager at the Cotswolds House Hotel and the Noel Arms in Oxfordshire, said it will be good to be back, but wonders whether he can satiate the demand.

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