Return of furlough? Bosses' fears over new Covid wave

Andre Smith, owner of Cans 'N' Cocktails bar on Norwich's Prince of Wales Road with StopTopps anti-drink spiking measure

Andre Smith, owner of Cans 'N' Cocktails - Credit: Cans 'N' Cocktails

A nightclub boss as warned there could be more economic casualties because of pressures of Covid restrictions.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has announced the UK should be ready to bring back targeted furlough support if the rapid spread of the Omicron variant forces the government to lockdown parts of the economy.

It cautioned over the "major risk" facing the UK economy from new waves of the pandemic and advised that Britain should be "ready to deploy" a revamped, mini form of furlough in the event of widespread closures to help sectors suffering the most, including hospitality.

Andre Smith, owner of Cans 'N' Cocktails in Prince of Wales Road, said: "Hospitality was first to close and last to open in the previous lockdown. Businesses are struggling. People are not coming out as much as they were pre-pandemic.

"If it gets to the stage of furlough there could be more economic victims from Covid."

Philip Cutter the landlord at The Murdrers & Gardeners Arms in Norwich pictured in 2019. Picture: Ne

Phil Cutter, landlord of the Murderers pub - Credit: Archant

Phil Cutter, landlord of The Murderers in Timber Hill, said there was a degree of cautiousness among hospitality customers.

He said: "There is a lot of nervousness out there. If customer confidence is not there we will struggle in hospitality. Christmas time is normally come out and if they don't come out now they won't visit after Christmas."

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Mr Cutter was more upbeat about furlough.

"I'm confident there won't be another lockdown. Hopefully furlough would give us some degree of a buffer," he added.

The landlord said that his business has not been badly affected as some other hospitality businesses in the city through the Omicron variant emerging in the UK.

Mr Cutter added: "Some publicans have lost hundreds of Christmas bookings which is devastating."

He said the pub decided against taking large Christmas bookings and relied on walk-ins but the change to many working from home was having a knock-on effect on custom across the industry as office workers were not having drinks together.

"I'm happy where we are though. Business is no-where near pre-pandemic levels but it is better than last year."

Chancellor Rishi Sunak outside 11 Downing Street, London, before heading to the House of Commons to

Chancellor Rishi Sunak - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The IMF joined chancellor Rishi Sunak in stressing the importance of vaccinations and booster jabs to help shield the economy and the need for more damaging lockdowns.