Covid: Restaurants hammered by drop in diners as Omircon hits business

Restaurants have witnessed their poorest week since the spring as the rapid spread of coronavirus hit the public’s appetite for eating out.

The latest weekly economic update from the Office for National Statistics has revealed the number of seated diners in the UK fell by 14 percentage points in the week to December 20.

This is the largest week-on-week fall since September 6. It is also the lowest level since indoor dining reopened in England, Wales and Scotland in May, and the first time the level has fallen below 100% since then.

Hospitality has been contending with a huge number of cancellations in bookings in recent days. 

Nicola Sturgeon told people to cancel their Christmas parties and reduce social contacts in the days leading up to Christmas. While the industry had been impacted by staff shortages too due to rising numbers of people isolating. 


Hospitality chiefs said earlier this week that firms had reported between 40% and 60% declines in booking numbers, with this worsening in recent days.

This is all before new restrictions come into force on Boxing Day as pubs and restaurants will have to reinstate physical distancing and operate as table service-only for three weeks.

The ONS said latest figures also showed that overall retail footfall in the UK over the week to December 18 was at 81% of the levels seen in the same week in 2019.

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