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Poco Lounge boss slams Government Covid rules as "shambolic"

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The boss of bar and restaurant group Loungers has labelled the Government’s recent messaging around Covid-19 rules as “absolutely shambolic” and described Covid passports as “unworkable” for the hospitality sector.

Loungers owns the Poco Lounge in Lynn High Street.

Nick Collins, chief executive of the 175-site business, has said he “can’t imagine a scenario” where Covid certification would be necessary for his customers.

Poco Lounge, King's Lynn High Street (14466815)
Poco Lounge, King's Lynn High Street (14466815)

It comes after the Prime Minister announced on Monday that full vaccination will be a condition of entry to clubs and other venues with large crowds in England from the end of September.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for Boris Johnson refused to rule out a similar requirement for busy pubs and bars.

Mr Collins said such a move would be another major blow to the hospitality sector and criticised the Government’s communication over potential rule changes.

“The messaging from the Government on this issue has been absolutely shambolic and completely unhelpful,” he told PA.

“I don’t think certification would be likely to applicable for us but I have to stress that it is completely unworkable for everyone in the sector.

“Not only that, it’s a massive violation of civil liberties. It shouldn’t be something we are talking about.”

The warning came as Loungers, which runs individually-named Lounge venues and the Cosy Club brand, reported a recovery in trading following the end of the latest lockdown measures.

It said like-for-like sales increased by 23.7% from the indoor reopening of venues on May 17 to July 18, compared with the same period in 2019.

Loungers said it has benefited from past-pandemic trends as flexible work patterns has resulted in busier local high streets.

Mr Collins said: “We’ve certainly benefited from our focus on high streets in towns and suburban areas.

“Footfall has stayed strong as even if people are working from home more they are still popping in for a coffee or a brunch.”

The group said it is committed to opening more sites and expects to have 23 new locations by the end of 2021.

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