Kate Nicholls has described how she has been left “genuinely bemused” by the lack of understanding among ministers over the costs of remaining closed.

Speaking on MCA’s The Conversation event, the UKHospitality leader said there was a failure to appreciate that the furlough scheme and other support scheme were not covering the costs for businesses being shut.

Nicholls said it was essential to drive home the message that support would be needed throughout the period where restrictions remained in place.

She was speaking in response to comments from co-panellists Matt Snell, MD of Gusto Italian, who told the event how his business was burning through £100,000 a month being closed.

She said: “They hide behind the fact that the grants are covering the costs of closure for the majority of businesses, but they have no concept of multiples, and no real understanding of why people would want to try and do the right thing by their team - which is a particularly galling thing, when most of the costs of remaining closed are to do with furlough.

“We have had continued statements from ministers and the Chancellor inferring that they will do whatever it takes to support us until we reopen again, we’ve had commitments from the business Secretary that support would be continued if restrictions were kept in place.

“The thing that we will need to reinforce the most and try and explain is about the fact it’s not just as long as restrictions are in place, it’s about the recovery period and it’s about the level of indebtedness that the sector is going to exit with.

“This is not going to be a quick bounce-back like we had last summer. Even last summer it took us eight weeks to start rebuilding consumer confidence and getting people to come out.

“As long as you’ve got social distancing restrictions and occupancy caps you are never going to break even. That’s the thing that they struggle with the most – that 60% of normal sales isn’t getting you to break even.

“It’s the single biggest thing that I find frustrating, I repeat myself every week whenever I’m on the call with them is about that break-even point - they genuinely don’t realise level it is that high.”