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COVID-19 restrictions could be reintroduced this winter

27th October 2021

Sajid Javid recently warned that COVID-19 cases could reach as high as 100,000 a day this winter.

Increased pressure has therefore been put on the Government by organisations, including medical associations and the Labour Party, to reintroduce at least some COVID-19 restrictions to prevent a situation where the NHS “stumbles into a winter crisis”.

Labour has therefore called on the Government to reintroduce measures outlined in their Plan B document for the Autumn and Winter months.

As part of these measures, the Government could reintroduce the policy that individuals should work from home wherever possible, meaning that office-based businesses may again find themselves paying full rent for a partially utilised space.

There are also concerns in the hospitality and retail sectors of what a reintroduction of COVID-19 restrictions could mean for them. Many fear that there could be a return to the strictest form of lockdown rules, where pubs and non-essential stores are forced to closed to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed.

Representatives from these industries have urged the government to avoid this scenario, adding that if hospitality venues such as pubs, restaurants, hotels and non-essential retails stores were forced to close once again, it could result in the “death” of a significant number of impacted businesses across these sectors.

According to Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UK Hospitality, the period between Halloween and New Year’s Eve represents a crucial time of the year for businesses in the sector, with hospitality businesses typically generating an average of 40% of their annual profit during this period.

Sally Beck, General Manager of a London-based hotel, explains how “it is totally vital we have a festive season. If they [the Government] are going to restrict us on numbers and social distancing, then let us know now and we can get on with it. Just don’t shut us down. Don’t kill us.”

Importantly, the Government currently believes that there is not the data or predictive models to suggest the need for a “winter lockdown” or the reintroduction of some restrictions.

Some news outlets have recently reported that the current surge in COVID-19 cases could reach another peak in the next couple of  days before case rates then start to dramatically fall. These reports further support the Government’s thinking that increased restrictions or a possible “winter lockdown” may not be necessary for the moment.

Nonetheless, the fear building amongst businesses certainly confirms that the pandemic is far from over and, despite the easing of COVID-19 restrictions on July 19th, businesses could still be in for a couple of tough months of uncertainty  whilst the number of new daily cases increases.

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