UK government financing keeps pubs and restaurants afloat during pandemic

London, Apr 18 (EFE).- Lower taxes and government financing in the United Kingdom have allowed many pubs and restaurants to stay afloat during the latest lockdown but not all have managed to survive in the uncertain landscape.

For Gerard Oliver, general manager of the Scottish Stores pub near King’s Cross station, the UK’s furlough scheme was a lifeline that covered up to 80% of the salaries of his bar staff and managers.

“The government support was significant and really good from our perspective,” he told Efe.

This month, pubs and restaurants in the UK have been allowed to serve people in outside spaces for the first time since the hospitality industry was ordered to shut up shop when the lockdown came into effect in January.

Oliver used this time to invest in better heating and shelter in the pub’s outside area, but he acknowledges that not all pubs were able to reopen this month.

Those with no outside space on the property must remain shut according to government guidelines. Many have called last orders for the last time.

“This is the biggest challenge to face the hospitality industry since the Second World War, even during the Second World War pubs stayed open, apart from time when there was no electricity, but pubs were still open and people were still drinking in them,” Oliver said.

“This is the first time in all these years that all pubs had to close by law.”

While government financing has been crucial to keeping people in work during the pandemic, the price of rent, which is particularly high in the UK capital, remained at the discretion of private landlords who are not always willing to negotiate.

“The biggest incongruence is leaving rent in the hands of private agencies and not having help when you are obligated not to open,” David Ubiño, manager of the La Plaza group, which employs around 100 people in its Spanish restaurants, food shop and catering service in the UK, told Efe.

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