Pubs and restaurants in England have been excluded from compulsory mask rules and Covid passes, but the industry has been hit by a wave of cancellations in the crucial festive season. Nightclub trading dropped by almost a third after passes were introduced in Scotland and Wales.
Darren Jones, a Labour MP and chairman of the Business Select Committee, said: “As has been common practice during the pandemic, businesses and workers should be supported with the costs associated with doing the right thing, as required by law. To implement new restrictions without continued support is clearly wrong.”
Participants also pressed Mr Kwarteng for details on a ‘Plan C’, according to another source on the call, as well as the policing of Covid passes and mask wearing.
The source said: “Several business groups said, ‘if we get to the end of the six weeks, and it’s still bad, what are you going to do next?’”
The Business Department declined to comment.
Companies are also keen to avoid the requirements in Scotland to keep a record of customers’ details in pubs, restaurants and cafes, as well as enforcing mask-wearing in shops. Currently stores are only legally required to display signs asking customers to wear face coverings.
Furlough ended on September 30, having protected 11.7 million jobs at its peak at a cost of £70bn through three lockdowns from March last year.