Birmingham restaurants in limbo as Christmas bookings slashed

The 50-seater Indian Streatery in Birmingham said more than 200 bookings had been cancelled since ‘Plan B’ restrictions were introduced last week.

This accounts for about 80% of its festive reservations, with general manager Dhiraj Sharma saying the uncertainty was “really difficult”.

He said the hospitality industry needed more support from government.

“It’s not on the customers, everyone’s been so lovely about it, they’ve been so apologetic,” Mr Sharma said.

“Safety is the most important thing but our running costs are still there.”

To cope, the restaurant is having to cut back on staff hours which Mr Sharma said was “the biggest shame for us” in the run-up to Christmas, “but it’s the only thing we can do”.

The government introduced ‘Plan B’ measures, which included urging people to work from home where possible and wear face coverings in crowded settings, last week.

Although when they were announced, there was no specific guidance for pubs and restaurants, businesses say it has affected their customers’ confidence and footfall in the city centre.

In Birmingham’s China Town, James Wong who runs Chung Ying restaurant, said the cancellations were “depressing”.

“Seventy per cent of our bookings have been cancelled,” he said. “It’s looking pretty bleak at this time.”

“Every restaurant is banking on a good Christmas… we just don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Mr Sharma said his business is now planning “day by day” due to the uncertainty.

“A lot of people just don’t know what to do,” he said.