The head of the JHA has expressed serious concerns about the delay to reintroducing stand-up drinking in hospitality venues and the lack of clear communication from Ministers.
Simon Soar, the Chief Executive of the Jersey Hospitality Association, said after 14 months of restrictions, the industry is on its knees and has described the updated guidance for gatherings announced late yesterday as ‘non-sensical’.
Those changes include bringing forward the resumption of normal bar and restaurant opening hours from this Friday, and that up to 50 people will be able to attend a wedding reception in a private garden from Stage-6 of the Reconnection Roadmap on 10th May. But Ministers have delayed the resumption of stand-up drinking in bars and restaurants until Stage-7 on 14th June.
Simon Soar said: “Businesses in the hospitality industry have not been able to trade properly for over a year and even with some of the recent relaxation of the rules, they are not making any money. I fear for the mental health of business owners and their hard-working staff who are facing losing their jobs and livelihoods as these restrictions continue.
Stand-up drinking would allow many of these businesses to start making money again and the decision to delay it is a serious threat to their future. There is also no mention of a review of mask wearing indoors. We have two known active cases of Covid-19 and one of the best testing and track and trace systems for arriving passengers in the world. I cannot understand why the government is taking this non-sensical approach.”
The Government has also clarified that the 50-person limit in a private garden does not apply if the garden or private outdoor space is available for hire for a wedding or other event. Members of the events industry have lost bookings because couples were told they could not go ahead if they had booked a private venue.
A statement released by the Government earlier this week said parties or gatherings in private homes brought particular risks because they are not subject to the same cleaning regimes and controls as commercial venues and that the private venue was responsible for Covid measures being adhered to.
Last week, Simon wrote to Ministers asking for urgent clarification. “I thought we had a good working relationship with the Government and, up until now, our lines of communication worked well.
“The only response I have had to my email was an acknowledgement it had been received. That is simply not good enough when we were trying to get Ministers and officials to understand a mistake had been made. The statement made by the Government is very disappointing. It is narrow minded and not factual. It doesn’t cover the actual situation faced by events companies who work extremely hard with couples to put on safe and compliant receptions and parties. There are proper processes for putting in place risk assessments which already exist for all venues. All the Government has done so far is back track rather than acknowledge they were wrong.”