The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) says it is disappointed with the Government’s Covid-19 roadmap which will see hospitality and foodservice venues remain shut until at least 12th April.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined his Covid-19 exit strategy yesterday 22nd February and revealed that outdoor hospitality will reopen no earlier than 12th April.

From 17th May, two households or a group of six may be able to meet indoors at a pub, restaurant or another hospitality setting. From 21st June, all legal limits on social contact should be removed if the Roadmap goes to plan.

Responding to the Prime Minister’s latest announcement on lockdown restrictions, Ian Wright CBE, FDF chief executive, said: “It is disappointing but wholly expected that the Prime Minister’s roadmap shows no signs of taking account of any input from business. For a great many of the food and drink manufacturers supplying the hospitality and foodservice sectors, a return to ‘business as usual’ seems an awful long way off.

“There is potentially a glimmer of light at the end of what was fast becoming a rapidly narrowing tunnel.”

“As such, it is only correct that the Chancellor outlines significant extensions to the furlough and credit insurance schemes as part of his Budget announcement next week. The food and drink industry is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector. It will therefore be key to the country’s economic recovery, with a footprint in every region. Now is the time for Government to provide additional support to ensure those businesses most at risk can play their part in putting the country back on its feet.”

However, Mark Lynch, partner at corporate finance firm, Oghma Partners, said the Prime Minister’s exit strategy offers a ray of hope for the foodservice industry.

He commented: “There is potentially a glimmer of light at the end of what was fast becoming a rapidly narrowing tunnel. The ‘Food to Go’ and hospitality industries have been hit significantly hard over the last 10-months. Pubs, restaurants and foodservice manufacturers and, to a lesser extent, ‘Food to Go’ capacity have disappeared from the market and the overall damage to the economy, which has not been felt yet, could weaken demand on a medium term not just a short-term basis. However, April could be a lifeline for many businesses in these sectors with the reopening of restaurants and pubs able to serve customers outdoors.”