With hospitality facing another lockdown, how can the industry survive?

The hospitality sector is again in dire straits, with the slow creep of targeted lockdowns being implemented across the UK.

The most notable of these shutdowns has been in the central belt of Scotland, where Nicola Sturgeon has kiboshed evening trading for hospitality venues for more than two weeks.

Scotland’s first minister said that new measures were being implemented to reduce the R rate in Scotland, with new cases rising throughout the last fortnight. They include all bars and restaurants being closed to visitors for the next sixteen days, while cafes will only be allowed to open until 6pm, and not sell alcohol.

In return, the Scottish government announced a £40 million support package to get hospitality businesses through the tough fortnight ahead, and also said that businesses would be allowed to continue takeaway services.

Further, with regional lockdowns firmly in place and likely only to escalate in Northern England, it would appear the hospitality industry’s plight is set to worsen. As pressure mounts on the prime minister to enforce new lockdown measures to contain the spread of the virus, it begs the question of how many bar and restaurant staff will be considered viable work? And how many will be informal workers, and thus not entitled to any support?

For now, the government’s ‘traffic light’ system prevails as a yardstick for regional lockdowns. However, despite strong resistance, it would be prudent for hospitality businesses to ready themselves for lockdown part two, and that means making the most of their takeaway offering.

This will mean not just devising a takeaway-suitable set of products, but marketing and packaging these products in such a way that they don’t appear like last-minute, desperate attempts to hawk off wares. Further, it will involve implementing the necessary infrastructure to put products in front of consumers’ eyes – and this means tech.

Enlisting with a takeaway and delivery service, offering discounts and deals, these are all vital and tried-and-tested ways of drumming up support in what could be a frigid lockdown trading environment.

Commenting on the need for pubs and restaurants to implement tech solutions in order to remain a viable option for customers, the CEO of online food ordering service NOMM, Will Broome, states:

“The Coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly left a lasting impact on every sector of British business, and the hospitality industry stands to be one of the hardest hit sectors, with the possible closure of bars, pubs and restaurants once again.”

“As Covid cases surge, it is of paramount importance that these hospitality businesses are able to continue to trade, whilst still maintaining hygiene and safety standards and offering a quality customer experience. Mobile technology represents a key solution to a number of the challenges posed by increased safety and hygiene measures, by enabling features such as in-app payments and remote ordering which can dramatically cut down on person-to-person contact, overcrowding and potentially dangerous interactions in the venue.

“Ultimately, tech-based solutions such as NOMM will help bars, pubs and other hospitality venues to dramatically improve the convenience, speed and safety of their customer experience, leading to increased popularity, success and growth beyond the Coronavirus crisis.”

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Jamie Gordon
Senior Journalist at the UK Investor Magazine. Also a contributing writer at the Investment Observer, UK Property Journal and UK Startup Magazine. Postgraduate of King's College London with a specialisation in Business Ethics. Interested in Development Economics and David Hume.