Rishi Sunak plans to ask employers to contribute to the JRS from August, but 41% of operators say they won’t be able to contribute a penny unless they are operating at full capacity by then, according to the latest weekly Hospitality Leaders Poll by MCA Insight/HIM.

”Our ability to top up Furlough is based on our income,” said one multi-site operator. “We won’t be able to start paying 20% of the salaries of people furloughed unless there’s enough income to pay the bills. In this scenario, we will look at the redundancy routes for excess numbers, and recruit as we ramp up when we do need the numbers.

“We will be able to afford to top up salaries and operate at a more robust level if something like the National Time Out campaign is successful as our rents in London are the number one fixed cost and therefore the fundamental issue with not being able to trade as before.”

Another multi-site operator said that “part time furloughing needs bringing in prior to August. It should be allowed at same time as hospitality lockdown restrictions are removed [on 4th July]”.

And a third said if there was a top up on furlough due to “part time work to accommodate the lower volume that we would except in the reopening phase, then that would be acceptable, otherwise we cannot contribute to additional cost of the furlough.”

Further detail about the expected contribution is set to come at the end of the month. Meanwhile, as the 4th July approaches, the poll also reveals that plans to reopen are being hampered by a lack of detail around safety guidelines.

Over half of the operators questioned (55%) said it was unclear whether they would be able to reopen until specific guidelines are released. And 12% said they would not be able to reopen then. There was some positivity however, with 17% believing they would be able to reopen, 14% thinking they would be able to partially reopen, and 2% had already started to reopen.

Finally, as the debate around social distancing of two metres vs one metre continues, 40% of operators said they would be able to reopen if it was one metre as opposed to two, and a further 36% said ‘Maybe’.

One operator said: “we cannot open with 2 metre social distancing” while another said: “the key thing for the sector is to get clarity on the social distancing requirements as soon as possible”.

And a third said: The message from the Government needs to change to encourage the general public it’s safe to eat out, otherwise we don’t stand a chance of surviving. Few business models will work running at anything less than 10% - 20% of sales pre-coronavirus without government support.”

The poll spoke to 464 founders or board level operators across restaurants, pubs and food to go.