Covid-19: Hospitality Industry

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:02 pm on 24th March 2021.

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Photo of Jane Hunt Jane Hunt Conservative, Loughborough 6:02 pm, 24th March 2021

I first congratulate my good friend, my hon. Friend Selaine Saxby, on securing such a vital debate. I declare an interest in that my husband works for a logistics company and deals directly with the hospitality sector in his role.

Our hospitality industry is incredibly important to local communities both socially and economically. Some 3,000 people in Loughborough constituency alone are employed in the hospitality sector, offering everything from the ability to rent a table cloth for an event to arranging worldwide conferences for major businesses, as well as providing a scrumptious meal and a pint of local real ale by an open fire or indeed at a Michelin-starred restaurant, or a piece of cake and a coffee and a chance to meet friends in town. I would like to take this opportunity to thank every single hospitality business for all they have done over the past year to adapt to very difficult circumstances and particularly to protect jobs.

I would also like to thank the Government for the part they have played in this, having rolled out the financial support measures. In addition, I am pleased that the Government recently published their road map for reopening, which I know has provided much-needed certainty to many businesses and individuals in my constituency, as well as the emphasis the Prime Minister has placed on not reimposing restrictions once they have been lifted.

Working with Loughborough businesses over the last year, the most frequently asked question as we come out of these restrictions is, “Please can we come out with certainty?” I believe we are on our way to achieving this. What we all must realise is that we are the people who can make that succeed or fail. We must as a whole nation stick to the rules on social distancing, wearing masks and washing our hands, even when we are vaccinated, so that we can help control the virus.

For many months now, I have been advocating the use of testing to allow occasions such as weddings, rugby matches, conferences and other large events to restart. I would like to reiterate this point to the Minister, because the events industry overlaps considerably with hospitality services and provides a vital source of income for many hospitality businesses in my constituency. I would therefore welcome an update from my hon. Friend on the Government’s plans to achieve this.

There is a famous saying in the hospitality sector, which is that customers may forget what you have said but they will never forget how you made them feel. Well, hospitality sector—get ready! We have forgotten what you said a year ago, but I think everyone in this Chamber remembers how they felt the last time they were able to do the simplest thing, like meet a friend for lunch or go for a drink. The whole country is waiting for that great British hospitality to start up again: welcome back!