Chesterfield hospitality business owner slams Boris Johnson’s ‘Plan B’ Covid restrictions

A business owner from the Chesterfield hospitality industry has criticised the recent introduction of ‘Plan B’ measures to halt the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

By Tom Hardwick
Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 12:35 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 12:58 pm
Steve Perez said the new restrictions will be problematic for the hospitality industry.
Steve Perez said the new restrictions will be problematic for the hospitality industry.

Under new restrictions, NHS Covid passes are needed for nightclubs and unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people. Masks are legally mandated in most public indoor venues, with exceptions for eating and drinking.

Steve Perez, owner of Casa Hotel and the Global Brands drinks company, said this would be difficult and expensive to police, with many in the hospitality industry already struggling financially.

“The first issue with Covid passports is that it takes an awful lot of policing and additional staff members. We’re already struggling in hospitality with actually getting staff, and it's another expense.

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“Hospitality, as we all know, has had a really difficult time over the last couple of years, and this is an additional financial burden upon us all.”

Mr Perez said that, while he supports being vaccinated against Covid, it is unnecessary to make this a requirement for entry into certain venues.

“I do believe vaccines work- I’m 100% pro vaccines, I’m not an anti-vaxxer or anything like that. Speaking as somebody who had Covid before having the vaccine, I think it prevents serious illness.

“But if the government is telling us you can still pass it on even if you’re double vaccinated- what’s the point?

“I think it is unnecessary, and yet another contradiction from the government. I believe the reason they’re doing this is nothing to do with hospitality, it’s just to encourage people to get vaccinated, as there are sceptics out there.”

Mr Perez also said that the controversy around supposed Christmas parties being held at Downing Street- with many top government figures being accused of breaching Covid restrictions at the time- has made it unlikely for businesses to follow Boris’ ‘Plan B’.

“I think it’s pretty obvious that there have been a number of cases of the government, government aides and people directly employed at the top of government not adhering to the rules, and I’m sure lots of other businesses and people will not adhere to the rules now.

“In order to get people to comply, you’ve got to comply yourself.”

Scott Knowles, chief executive of the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce, said the new measures would impact businesses during the crucial festive season, and urged the government to provide economic support to those impacted.

“It felt like the days of a start-stop approach to the economy had passed, so this announcement will come as a bitter blow to many businesses that had been looking ahead to the festive period with a bounce.

“Given the importance of this season to those sectors, these coming weeks are critical to their future prospects, and any restrictions that act as a barrier to business continuity or capacity will be massively detrimental. Many organisations have spent a great deal of energy and money on making their workplaces Covid-secure, as well as in encouraging employees to feel confident about returning, so the mandate to work from home sends a troubling message.

“These restrictions must be met by immediate and effective Government financial support for all affected firms, while we expect it to follow the data to act swiftly in rolling these restrictions back at the earliest possible opportunity.”