So the mood of the nation has darkened once again. After some brief respite from the most serious Covid restrictions over the summer months, the disease has roared back with a vengeance and we are collectively facing an autumn and winter of discontent.
The government’s strategy to order hospitality venues to limit their opening hours to 10pm for perhaps another 6 months has put the brakes on any sense of recovery the industry may have felt, and has proven controversial. With many local areas in high level restrictions, some hospitality sites have once again had to shut their doors completely for a time – with no guarantee they’ll ever be able to open again.
The finger of blame for the resurgence has been pointed at many different sectors and demographics, from young people raving the night away, to socialising in domestic settings or the hospitality industry itself. The government of course needs to shoulder blame for its very confused messaging, but no-one seems to agree entirely on whose fault it is.
While many foodservice sites have been doing their utmost to reduce the infection risk as much as possible, I have also heard anecdotal evidence that there are also more unscrupulous operators out there who are not strictly abiding by the rules. But no matter how conscientious a site has been, individual tables of diners can’t social distance amongst themselves and can’t wear masks while eating or drinking, and so pose a transmission risk to each other.
With the government and various statisticians contradicting each other as to the main sources of spread, it only increases the uncertainty that we all feel, with the UK catering equipment supply chain once again facing extreme challenges to survive. Therefore all we can do is try and adapt offerings and cater to the small amount of business that is out there.
For instance, as more people head indoors in colder weather, the risk of transmission also increases in areas where there is poor ventilation – this may be something that kitchen and front of house ventilation equipment manufacturers can help operators with over the coming months.
Also I would suggest that even more emphasis on takeaway and delivery services, or street food trading, are the only ways a lot of venues are going to earn revenue. Therefore, as a supply chain, we should all gear up to support this accelerated trend, to try to balance health and wealth concerns.
Sadly, we must gird our loins to once again see income shrink for catering equipment dealers and suppliers. This mess is not going to be over until a vaccine is widely available.