Right now the world feels like the end scene of Fight Club, the bit where two people stand hand-in-hand watching as the world crumbles to nothing in front of them. The apocalypse played out to the reverberating notes of The Pixies as the demolition job reduces the skyline to dust. Tyler Durden, full of arrogance and bravado, is dead, whilst his pessimistic, nervous, and bleak counterpart looks to the outside world emotionless and cold. He has little understanding of how it got to this.
This post was scheduled to be a lovely weekend stay, though that chipper piece will have to wait. The government’s decision to band the country into ‘fucked’, ‘really fucked’, and ‘really fucked with financial support’ is yet another blow which will impact hospitality the hardest. A recent study showed that hospitality accounted for under 3% of COVID transmissions outside the household, yet it’s being held as a scapegoat for a boom in cases widely attributed to the return of education and workplace reopenings. This is further compounded by Johnson himself using the Eat Out to Help Out scheme as a cause of a rise in cases when the science suggests otherwise. That mop headed blundering balloon head in number ten is using an entire sector to cover up his incompetence. It’s impossible to not be angry about.
The reality here in Birmingham is a bleak one. Taking the middle tier of ‘really fucked’, we’re not allowed to mix with other households inside, effectively sounding the death knell for places that had previously been the only viable source of socialising. Couples with children can no longer take turns going out with friends, whilst those in single households are now preparing for a long winter wearing several layers of clothing if they are to see anyone at all. The knock on effect is obvious: tables of four and six will now become twos and nones. Those without outdoor spaces and food options will suffer most, leaving the rest scrambling to make ends meet. What’s this going to achieve? Birmingham, with a declining rate of 160 cases per 100k sits outside the top 50 of worst affected areas, whilst Liverpool, the only region forced to close pubs completely, occupies third place with two areas higher than them. There has been no dialogue with local authorities. It’s almost like they are making this up as they go along.
Moaning about this on Twitter does nothing, as does me using this post as a place to vent. Right now hospitality needs support not empathy. It needs firm and direct action when the government offers nothing to them. I’m working with someone as of this morning to match up ‘wet’ only businesses with others who can supply them food to sell. Still go out to eat if you can, brave the cold for a drink if you have to, and if you don’t feel safe – which is perfectly understandable – order a takeaway, or an ‘at home’ pack like the ones Aktar Islam is presently banging out. Encourage the businesses you love to diversify for the winter to offer their products to have at home at your convenience, but most importantly don’t neglect someone because their size and location doesn’t play to a government narrative which is still being written. Buy vouchers as presents if you have to. Sure it’ll make Christmas Day a bit shitter, but Mrs Brown’s Boys has already done that.
I need to make it clear that I’ve personally never supported the idea of letting COVID rip through the country like our Prime Minister did back in February. The idea of condemning an entire generation to death is to me the end of humanity. This situation is almost as bad; it achieves neither supporting businesses or protecting the vulnerable. It’s likely that the next loss you mourn will be your favourite bar and restaurant if we don’t all pull together on this. It’s time that Boris Johnson retrained to be the Prime Minister he claims to be.