LONDON — U.K. Treasury chief Rishi Sunak is expected to announce increased help for bars, pubs and restaurants that have seen business collapse because of COVID-19 controls.
Hospitality businesses are under pressure because the measures severely limit social gatherings, even under the lower levels of restrictions imposed on areas with less severe outbreaks. That reduces the number of people who go out for dinner or to meet up with friends, reducing income and forcing employers to lay off workers.
But most can’t take advantage of current government aid programs, which are focused on businesses that are ordered to close under the highest level of restrictions.
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street told the BBC that the support programs were designed with the assumption that the pandemic would ease, reducing the need for government assistance. That didn’t happen and infection rates are now rising across the country.
The government “didn’t expect us to be in a position through the autumn where we were having a rising level of the virus to this extent, so if you look at the design of the winter economy package, at the time that seemed rational but clearly events have moved very quickly.”