James O'Brien hears businessman's "gut-wrenching" coronavirus story

20 March 2020, 16:25

By Seán Hickey

This caller is the managing director of a UK restaurant chain and called to tell James of his heartbreak at having to fire staff in three branches.

Businesses have felt the pinch of coronavirus massively with the public being encouraged to stay indoors and away from bars, pubs and restaurants.

Sol from Barnet is the managing director of a restaurant chain and has nine locations nationwide. The restauranteur told James of his distraught when he had to fire the staff in three of his restaurants because of a downturn in business due to coronavirus.

"Indoor sales and takeaway have been decimated" Sol said.

James sympathised with Sol, mentioning that business owners cannot be blamed by the shortfalls in their companies "until the government explain" measures for businesses to keep staff on.

The service industry has already seen a massive hit
The service industry has already seen a massive hit. Picture: PA

Sol expressed his anxiety for the future of his business. "We've got 150 people to pay" he said, and cannot wait forever for the Chancellor to give information on how to move forward.

Sol told James that although he employs only 100, his responsibility is for the lives of many more than just that.

"We're probably supporting 1000 people"

James wanted to know how it felt for the restauranteur to fire his employees. "It's horrible- it's gut wrenching" he said. Sol said that he's worked with some of these people for years and couldn't face breaking the news to the workers.

When quizzed on what he'd like to hear from the government in their announcement today, Sol told James that "we need clarity to find out how we can get support from the banks" in order to keep his staff in a job.

James felt for Sol with what he needed, pointing out that "if it's not coming over the counter, where's it coming from?"