Leeds bar manager says hospitality still 'fighting for survival' as he urges Government not to impose Christmas lockdown
The manager of a bar in Leeds says the city's hospitality industry is still "fighting for survival" as he urged the Government not to impose Covid restrictions this Christmas.
Martin Greenhow, managing director of MOJO bar on Merrion Street, said cancellations are having a "catastrophic effect" on businesses, particularly restaurants, as people pull out of Christmas bookings.
The Government has told people to "keep calm and carry on” with their Christmas festivities, despite rising concern over Covid rates and the new Omicron variant.
And Martin said that it was imperative that the hospitality industry can trade as normal over the festive period.
He told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "It seems the wet-let business like ours aren't getting hit too hard, but food-led businesses who would usually take large group bookings are getting clobbered.
"I spoke to one operator recently which had 250 covers calling to cancel within an hour. That's catastrophic for businesses in our sector, we're still fighting for our survival.
"This is Christmas! It’s normally when we get to stockpile for the quieter times of the year."
Simon Hawkins is the owner and head chef at Fint, formerly Fettle, in Leeds city centre.
The restaurant was forced to close down during the first lockdown and is still finding its feet since reopening as Fint in July.
Simon said: “The main focus for us this Christmas is getting people aware that we’re open and making them aware that we’re still struggling through
“Ever since we reopened, we’re finding that people don’t book ahead - they’re booking within a few hours of coming in.
“Saturdays are really hairy for us. At 12pm we’ll only have about three or four tables booked, but by the end of the night we could have done 35 covers.
"It makes it really difficult to prepare.
“But as long as people do keep coming out, we’re happy.”
MOJO hasn't seen a change in its footfall as concerns grow over coronavirus, which Martin puts down to the bar's younger target audience.
He says customers are more concerned at the "inconvenience" of having to isolate over lockdown, rather than fear of getting the virus.
"It’s a little quiet but not massively so, compared to a normal year," Martin added.
"I want to be allowed to continue to trade and operate - we don't need restrictions or ridiculous lockdowns.
"And above all, we want to provide a great experience this Christmas, some joy and a bit of respite.
"That's all we're here for."
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