Bars, pubs and restaurants are “desperate” by a New Year’s trade boom after Covid-19 wreaked havoc on the hospitality industry over Christmas.
An increase in Omicron cases has seen the government urging people to “think carefully” before going to the Christmas holidays, which led to a wave of cancellations throughout December.
“Christmas has been devastating for businesses around the world,” said Maja Adam, manager of Lindley Tap Bar and Grill in Huddersfield.
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“We’ve had a lot of cancellations. We’re close to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and all of their parties have been massively cut back or canceled that’s understandable.”
Mark Hobson, Managing Director of Corporation in Sheffield, added: “We were probably down 50% – and that doesn’t even include cancellations either.”
Sally Dunn, owner of Biltmore Bar and Grill in York, said 80% of their reservations were canceled by the end of December.
“The government just canceled Christmas,” she said.
“We lost all of our corporate functions. It was devastating.
“It was the last two weeks of December and people were scared to go out. We really felt the effect. We don’t know anyone who hasn’t.”
On December 27, the government revealed that the New Year celebrations could go according to plan.
For an industry that suffered devastating losses for nearly two years, the reprieve offers a brief glimmer of hope.
“We are looking forward to New Years Eve,” said Maja.
“Since Christmas it’s already a lot busier. Business has doubled compared to the week before Christmas.”
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Sheffield Corporation’s downtown nightclub has already seen an influx of bookings for its New Years party since the announcement.
“I am very happy that the restrictions weren’t entered,” said owner Mark.
“We are very desperate for a big party, certainly from a financial point of view.”
However, Sally said many customers may still have lingering doubts on New Years Eve.
Although it has been confirmed that New Years parties can take place, the government still urges people to be cautious.
Sally wants more support for the hospitality industry as a whole.
“I don’t think New Years Eve will be normal,” she said.
“We were doing very well with reservations until the messages came out to be careful. I’m sure we’ll fill the restaurant, but you just don’t know where you are.
“Christmas Eve was like a ghost town in York. It was also very quiet Boxing Day.
“You’ve got some die-hard people coming out with whatever it is, but you’ve got a lot more people who have made alternate plans to stay home.”
Speaking ahead of New Years Eve, Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the nation to celebrate in small groups.
He said: “I think everyone should enjoy the New Year, but in a careful and reasonable way.
“Take a test, a breakdown, think of others – but most of all, get boosted.”
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