Manchester’s night spots respond to Omicron concerns

As the world gets to grips with the new, more potentially transmittable Omicron variant, Manchester’s food and drink scene is gearing up for the busiest trading period of the year.

Despite some fears that government announcements on face coverings and international travel may result in huge numbers of cancellations of bookings in the run up to Christmas, the situation on ground is a little more complicated. 

At Mancunian Matters, we spoke to three city centre operators about the impact of new government measures on both passing trade and Christmas party bookings. 

“We have had a couple of cancellations since the announcement, but that is pretty normal and we can’t necessarily attribute that to Covid,” commented James Ball, general Manager at Tampopo Albert Square.

He goes on to say: “What we have noticed post lockdown is the weakening of office worker trade and I worry that that trade won’t return. “If bigger corporate firms take the move to make everyone work from home again that would dent business even further.”

Down the road at Fumo Manchester, a restaurant, bar and grill from the San Carlo Group, host Emma Castellani has noticed an increase in cancellations, but attributes this to a number of factors: “It has affected us a little bit, we’ve had a few people cancel because of Covid, but I don’t know whether it might also be the weather.”

On the type of cancellations, she adds: “I do think some people cancel and say it’s Covid just because they don’t want to lose their deposit but at the same time it’s mainly parties of 4 or 6 that are cancelling. I imagine with groups of 10, if 2 people have to cancel due to covid, the other 8 can still come.”

Further down Oxford Road at Bundobust’s new taproom and canteen, the business continues to adapt due to Covid. “For this site it’s more complicated as it’s a taproom and canteen but we have started to take bookings to be more careful around Covid.”

Adding: “We have had a lot of bookings not turning up or reduced numbers, which is probably a mix of Covid and the weather. I would say though that it’s caused a spike in fear.”

Across the board, it would appear that the jury is still out on the potential impact of the latest variant on Manchester’s restaurants and bars, but for now it seems even the wet and cold weather hasn’t deterred people from heading out to the city’s restaurants and bars.

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