Lockdown worries abound in Bradford hospitality industry

Lockdown worries abound in Bradford hospitality industry

PEOPLE from the hospitality industry have spoken of their concerns should a Bolton-style lockdown be implemented in Bradford.

This week the Government announced that due to the rise in COVID-19 cases in the Bolton area that all hospitality venues for food and drink (restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs) are restricted to takeaway only.

There have also introduced late night restrictions of operating hours as these venues must be closed to customers between 10pm and 5am each day.

“I’d be absolutely gutted if they had to introduce those measures in Bradford,” said Saleem Akhtar, owner of the Jinnah’s Restaurant group, “It’s very worrying if they do make an announcement like that.

“It would be a big problem for fine dining restaurants like ours. We would just have to close because it’s not worth our while to open for takeaway.

“We’d be back to square one where we were in March. I worry they are practising that style of lockdown in Bolton and will then target us here in Bradford because our COVID numbers are quite high.

“The Eat Out to Help Out scheme was a fantastic deal that brought customers back in numbers, but maybe it was double edged sword because some people were not abiding by the rules. We’ve been trying our best but not everybody was social distancing.

“I’ve seen a lot of ups and downs in my 30 years in the restaurant industry but this virus just seems to have baffled everyone on what to do.”

Richard Cullen, spokesman for the Ginger Goose, City Vaults and Lord Clyde pubs and Tiffin Coffee and Tiffin Coffee Grande, said: “It’s obviously going to be a big concern for us because it affects our customers and how they look at things.

“We’ve carried out a lot of risk assessments in our hospitality venues to mitigate and normalise everything to make sure our customers are safe.

“Social distancing, particularly in the smaller venues, was difficult at the start but recently it’s not been that much of an issue.

“We’ve come back strong and it would be a shame to lose all that again, but at the end of the day it’s about public safety.

“In the last couple of days, we’ve noticed that footfall in town is lower than normal.”

Although some in the hospitality sector are concerned about a possible introduction of the Bolton-style lockdown in Bradford, Faisal Hussain, manager of Shimla Spice, said Shimla’s restaurants in Keighley and Shipley would be able to adapt because of the success of its takeaway and delivery service.

“During lockdown, our takeaway business went through the roof because people couldn’t go out,” said Mr Hussain. “Bradfordians cannot live without a curry. It’s like one of their five-a-day.

“Then when customers were allowed to come back to the restaurant, we started to see a steady flow of customers coming in. It was an opportunity to show our customers that our restaurants are quite a safe environment.

“Then the Eat Out to Help Out scheme in August helped out tremendously in making money and bringing in new customers. It also developed confidence in eating out.”

But Mr Hussain is not too worried about a Bolton-style lockdown, as he believes their takeaway service would see them through.

“Every restaurant has to adapt in the current climate,” said Mr Hussain, who added that a 10pm closure would not be an issue as people tend to eat early.