Paul Askew from the Art School’s restaurant said that at the beginning of the restrictions imposed last week there was nervousness among many clients who had reservations about the venue on Sugnall Street, but that the situation has already improved since then.
The joint chairman of the Liverpool Hospitality Association and chef, who is patron of one of the city’s best restaurants, said there was a “glimmer of hope” for the local sector as it nears the end of its second week of Tier 3 restrictions – but there were still many challenges ahead.
There is optimism for the future of Liverpool’s ailing hospitality industry
The Liverpool City region became the first in the UK to be placed under the stricter Tier 3 restrictions on October 14, which means that households are banned from mixing in most places and bars and pubs that do not serve food will have to close.
“The first weekend of Tier 3 was very difficult and we all felt very depressed. The positive thing is that it seems to have eased up a bit this week and people seem to have become more aware of what Tier 3 is and what we can and cannot do.
he said: “In the beginning it was a very big impact. It had a detrimental effect on consumer confidence and we had quite a lot of cancellations.
But Mr. Askew said that the public was “bombarded with things we can’t do” – a lot of messages that “made people uneasy”.
He added: “I think we have to start now to focus on what people can do and turn it around so that they realize that they are allowed to do some things, like business lunches, and that you are allowed to have a drink as long as you eat a rich meal”.
He praised the joint authority of the Liverpool City Region for setting up a £40 million emergency fund for hospitality businesses.
“The reason we have the confidence to do this is because of the phenomenal collaboration between the private sector, the City Council and the City Region, and the fact that they have put this fund together in the time available to them is great – people will be getting money as early as next week.
He referred to Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcement on Thursday – a multi-billion pound package that includes grants to hospitality companies in areas like Liverpool that have been subject to local closures.
“The impact [of Tier 3]is huge, but at the same time there are some mitigating circumstances”.
So because Liverpool is so dependent on its hospitality and visitor economy, does the combination of all available local and national government support grants mean that the future of the industry is now assured?
In response to the announcement, Mr Askew said: “This is another step in the right direction. I think there will probably need to be more intervention along the way, but we are definitely on the right track.
According to Mr Askew, it may not be that easy.
“I think we all know that the toughest restrictions are on pubs and bars, and I feel desperately sorry for this group,” he said.