Hotelier Sir Rocco Forte today said he has no money left to donate to the Conservative Party as he slammed Britain’s latest lockdown rules as a ‘complete overreaction’.
Sir Rocco, 75, who has previously been a Tory donor, said he doesn’t have ‘any money to give’ the party after the Government’s coronavirus restrictions created a ‘grim situation’ for the hospitality industry.
Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, Sir Rocco, who has recovered from coronavirus, said: ‘They’ve overreacted, they’ve panicked in the first instance on the basis of a forecast of 500,000 deaths.
‘We’re now seeing new forecasts done by the same people who made the mistakes last time round, forecasting Armageddon, and they’re starting to panic again.’
The hotelier, who hosted a victory party for Boris Johnson after the 2019 election, added supporting the Conservative Party ‘doesn’t mean I have to agree with all its policies and the way it has reacted to this particular crisis.’
Sir Rocco (pictured), 75, who has previously been a donor to the Conservative Party, said he doesn’t have ‘any money to give’ the party after the Government’s coronavirus restrictions created a ‘grim situation’ for the UK hospitality industry
His comments came as a leaked Sage committee paper suggested up to 85,000 people could die in a ‘worst case’ scenario of a second wave of coronavirus.
The document claims that under a ‘reasonable worst case scenario’, Government scientists expect 356,000 people to be hospitalised with Covid-19 this winter.
It added there are likely to be 500 deaths a day for ‘at least’ three months between December and February, meaning 85,000 could be dead by the end of March.
The leaked report warns of a second wave of Covid-19 deaths and hospitalisations far worse than the first wave, dragging on until March or April of 2021.
Elsewhere, a new Imperial College surveillance study found nearly 100,000 Britons are being infected with coronavirus each day.
Experts behind the research warned cases were just weeks away from surpassing levels seen during the darkest days of the pandemic in March and April.
Previous projections have estimated there were slightly more than 100,000 daily cases in spring, which led to over 40,000 deaths in the first wave.
Sir Rocco, who runs Brown’s in London and The Balmoral in Edinburgh, has seen sales at his UK hotels plummet by 80 per cent during lockdown.
The hotelier has warned he could make a ‘considerable reduction’ in employees as a result of the end of furlough, with a potential 80 redundancies on the horizon.
Sir Rocco, who runs Brown’s in London (pictured) and The Balmoral in Edinburgh, has seen sales at his UK hotels plummet by 80 per cent during lockdown
He said: ‘We’re looking at considerable reduction in our staff unfortunately as a result of the ending of furlough, and we’re talking about 80 people out of a total employee base of 450 in this country.
‘The way things are at the moment we’re not looking at business improving very much for the next four or five months so we have no option but to take drastic action.
‘There’s talk now of Tier Three being imposed across the country. That would mean we have to close the hotels which would be pretty disastrous.’
Under Tier Three restrictions, hotels are able to remain open and accept overnight bookings – but people must not stay with those who are not members of the same household or ‘support bubble.’
The rules state: ‘Food and drink must not be served from 10pm to 5am and hotel restaurants must remain closed during these hours.
‘Room service can continue past 10pm provided orders are placed online or over the phone, and alcohol is permitted in room service.’
The London stock market was today trading at new six-month lows as the threat of stricter coronavirus restrictions sent shockwaves through the City.
The FTSE 100 index had a topsy-turvy first 30 minutes this morning as it opened up, then fell, then climbed again to be trading flat at 5,583 by 8.30am.
The index has not seen such low figures since it closed at 5,582 on April 6, just two weeks after the lockdown was imposed.
The FTSE 100 index had a topsy-turvy first 30 minutes this morning as it opened up, then fell, then climbed again to be trading flat at 5,583 by 8.30am
Sir Rocco today explained that 3.2million people work in the hospitality industry, with another 2.8million dependant on it.
‘We’re looking at a very bleak future and high levels of redundancies and unemployment,’ he said.
‘As it is, I’m looking at an outflow of cash for the current financial year of £60-odd million and that’s money just gone out of the window.
‘This is money that I won’t recover and money that won’t be invested so it’s a pretty grim situation.’
The hotelier even asserted more people are currently dying from influenza and pneumonia than Covid-19, though this was contested by Dr Mike Tildesley from the University of Warwick later in the programme.
‘The reality of the virus is that it is not the killer it was thought to be at the beginning, I mean they were talking about a bubonic type plague where a third of the population died,’ Sir Rocco said.
‘Deaths are terrible in any circumstances but we’re looking at a very very small proportion.’
Sir Rocco (pictured) today explained that 3.2million people work in the hospitality industry, with another 2.8million dependant on it
On Sunday, Sir Rocco insisted Health Secretary Matt Hancock should pay with his job for championing misguided lockdown policies now driving the hospitality sector into bankruptcy
Later, Dr Tildesley explained: ‘Looking at the data we have so far, it definitely doesn’t look like that’s the case.’
On Sunday, Sir Rocco insisted Health Secretary Matt Hancock should pay with his job for championing misguided lockdown policies now driving the hospitality sector into bankruptcy.
In a scathing article for The Mail on Sunday, the hotel tycoon said: ‘I believe it’s time to remove the figurehead [Mr Hancock] for the current shambolic handling of the crisis, with policies marked by indecision, U-turns and blindness to the devastating impact of its actions.’
He lamented how the Government’s virus response is turning the UK into ‘a totalitarian state’, with Ministers encouraging people to spy on neighbours while pubs and restaurateurs are required to employ ‘Gestapo-like tactics’ with customers over curfew and virus rules.
Sir Rocco also took aim at Mr Hancock for failing to respond to repeated questions about whether he returned to the Commons Smoking Room bar where MPs breached the 10pm drinks curfew one evening earlier this month.
He said: ‘The story has reinforced the infuriating impression that it’s one rule for them and one rule for the rest of us.
‘It is time for Mr Hancock to go and for the Government to change tack and move to an approach that allows the economy to return to normal.’