Rishi Sunak could offer cash support to pubs and clubs after venues forced to close amid Omicron surge

CHANCELLOR Rishi Sunak could offer cash support to pubs and clubs after venues were forced to shut amid a surge in Omicron cases.

The Chancellor cut short his trip to the US after pubs and restaurants said their Christmas bookings had collapsed.

It comes as senior government health advisor Chris Whitty told Brits on Wednesday to limit their social contacts despite the PM urging people to do the opposite.

A staggering 88,376 new Covid cases were confirmed on Thursday while 745,183 people received their booster.

According to The Times, Mr Sunak – who's been facing calls to offer more support to the music and travel industry – held meetings from California with UK hospitality bosses.

He is expected to return to London by lunchtime Friday where he will meet with more restaurant and pub bosses in person, the publication reports.

Mr Sunak said the government had "stood ready and willing" to support businesses and was working with local councils to ensure existing funding "gets out the door to those who need it as quickly as possible".

Councils are said to have £250million which has not yet been spent.

Most read in The Sun


Hamilton could QUIT F1 after being left 'disillusioned' by Verstappen's victory


Boris Johnson and Carrie reveal touching name for their new baby girl


Queen 'regretfully' CANCELS Christmas party with Royal Family over Omicron fears


Brits face ‘lockdown by backdoor’ as Omicron risks bringing UK to halt

The Times also reported that ministers are considering contingency plans to top up current grants available to businesses that will help them weather a drop in Xmas revenue.

One Government source told the publication the Treasury could dish out "several hundred million more" pounds for struggling businesses.

Ministers and hospitality bosses are said to be reluctant to return to furlough measures amid concerns it could further erode consumer confidence.

"This is about seeing businesses through a difficult period," a government source said.

"But it could all look very different in four weeks’ time. We don’t want to overcommit at this stage."

Among the businesses that met with the Government on Thursday included Nando’s, Black Sheep Brewery, Greene King, Adnams and Prezzo.

It comes as workers at Evelyn's Table in London's Soho put its closure down to "members of our core team having to isolate", MailOnline reports.

Barrafina Drury Lane in Covent Garden said "staff members isolating makes the services non-viable".

Darjeeling Express near Leicester Square reported a "double whammy of staff sickness combined with huge cancellations of groups".

And Blend Kitchen in Sheffield said it had seen a 50 per cent fall in bookings. 

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the industry group UKHospitality, told The Times: “It’s dire and deteriorating on a daily basis. It’s been pretty bad over the past ten days but now it’s fallen off a cliff.

"You could see trade start to soften when we had the announcement of Omicron. It’s fallen off a cliff since plan B."

A survey by UKHospitality found that in 10 days to Tuesday, 50 per cent of Christmas bookings were cancelled while walk-in trade fell by a third.

Hospitality venues have closed their doors to the Christmas rush as workers fall ill and the super-strain grips cities.

Some bosses say they had "no option" but to close during a "double whammy" of sick staff and customers staying away over concerns their festive plans could be disrupted.

And normally-busy streets have fallen quiet as office workers stay at home and shoppers head online to buy gifts for loved ones.

    Source: Read Full Article