London Mayor Sadiq Khan has written to Boris Johnson’s government, saying it must provide an urgent and comprehensive package of financial support for restaurants and other businesses in the West End of the capital.
Khan said that central London faced a “real existential threat” from the COVID-19 pandemic, such has been its impact on office workers, tourism, and the need for social distancing. In the letter, which comes after a number of high-profile restaurateurs co-signed a series of demands drafted by St. John owner Trevor Gulliver, Khan outlines eight proposals “that would help secure the West End’s future survival.”
According to the news on the Eater, the proposals begin with an extension to the business rates holiday from next March and overhauling that cost for the likes of restaurants as they face increased competition from online retailers. The letter also seeks targeted support for workers by extending the furlough scheme and ensuring freelance and self-employed workers receive their own financial protections. It wants to see a direct financial aid scheme for the likes of restaurants in central London, alongside a programme for small businesses unable to pay their rent, who are struggling to negotiate with landlords. Beyond that, Khan calls for more investment in the NHS test and trace and more support for hospitality businesses to implement their own systems. Lastly, he wanted to see measures to increase public confidence: For example, make face coverings compulsory in the busiest public spaces.