As the industry waits in a state of limbo for some clarity from the Government on reopening, Hospitality Union founder Jonathan Downey has urged operators to take matters into their own hands.

Speaking as part of The Manchester Hospitality Network’s Hospitality Returns Webinar, a virtual event discussing the future of hospitality in the city, Downey said that the Government were determined to ease restrictions slowly in order to “bring the public with them,” but that there is a clear role to be played by operators in leading the way for reopening.

With only 35 coronavirus related deaths in people under the age of 45 without pre-existing health conditions, he told attendees that it was time the industry, and the country, change tact when it comes to managing the virus.

“The Government will follow where we go,” he said. “We’ve been made scared by this for all the right reasons, but the situation has become clearer now.

“We’ve got to be realistic about the real risks of this virus now that we know a lot more about it. I think it’s largely up to us as an industry to show people the way.”

In order to prevent creating more fear than is necessary, Downey explained that in Dinerama - Street Feast’s Shoreditch-based food and drink market - “we’re probably going to say to people that if they’re wearing a facemask or a cover then we don’t want you in the place.

“It’s the wrong vibe and if you are that frightened then you shouldn’t be out,” he said. “We’ve all been trying to do the right thing, but we’ve been overdoing it, and it’s making people more frightened than they need to be.”

Also speaking at the event, Greater Manchester’s Night Time Economy Advisor Sacha Lord added that even when further Government guidance is released, it’s likely to put the onus back onto operators to carry out their own assessments.

“My main frustration at the moment is the absolutely lack of guidelines that we’ve got about how to reopen,” he said. “But my guess is that when the guidance does come out, the Government will be putting it back on our toes.

“In the rent code of conduct they put it back on the toes of the operator, and they’re going to do the same with this.

“It’ll be up to us to do our own risk assessments, own planning, and work it out. I don’t think there will be any particular specifics.”