Hotels, restaurants and pubs face closure because of the UK government’s “disastrous” new immigration rules.

That’s the warning from UK Hospitality, which represents companies from across the sector, including hotels, bars, coffee shops, contract catering businesses, nightclubs, visitor attractions and other leisure venues.

The government has announced that from 1st January 2021, EU citizens will be treated the same as non-EU citizens, with a route into the country for skilled workers and specialist workers but no route for general low-skilled or temporary workers.

The government said the move was designed to reduce the UK’s reliance on “cheap labour from Europe”.

All applicants from EU and non-EU countries will need to demonstrate that they have a job offer and that they speak English. They will also need to show that they would earn more than £25,600 (€30,530) a year – a reduction on the previous threshold of £30,000 (€35,778) – although they may still come into the country if they earn less than £25,600, provided it is no less than £20,480 (€24,424) and so long as they can demonstrate that they have a job in a specific shortage occupation designated by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) or that they have a PhD relevant to the job.

Under the system, prospective entrants to the country will need a minimum of 70 points to be eligible to apply. A job offer will be worth 20 points, the ability to speak English 10 points, a salary above £25,600 20 points, and a job in a shortage occupation 20 points.

Reacting to the news, UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Ruling out a temporary, low-skilled route for migration in just 10 months’ time will be disastrous for the hospitality sector and the British people. Business must be given time to adapt.

“These proposals will cut off future growth and expansion and deter investment in Britain’s high streets. It will lead to reduced levels of service for customers and business closures. Hospitality is already facing an acute labour shortage, despite investing significantly in skills, training and increasing apprenticeships for the domestic workforce. We are facing record low levels of unemployment, a dip in young people entering the labour market and have the highest vacancy levels of any sector.”

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