London restrictions ‘catastrophic’ for bars

15th October, 2020 by Melita Kiely

Putting London under tier two restrictions will be ‘catastrophic’ for on-trade businesses and the UK government must offer greater financial support or risk widespread job losses within weeks, UK Hospitality has warned.


London will be placed in tier two of England’s three-tier Covid alert system from midnight on 16 October

The UK government confirmed today (15 October) that London will be moved into the ‘high alert’ tier two category from midnight tomorrow. This means any mixing of households indoors will be banned, including in bars, pubs and restaurants.

Seven other regions are also being moved into the second tier: Barrow and Furness, Chesterfield, Elmbridge in Surrey, Erewash, Essex, North East Derbyshire and York.

However, without extending the job support currently only available to tier three businesses to those in tier two, UK Hospitality said the industry will face mass job cuts in the near future.

Kate Nicholls, UK Hospitality chief executive, said: “Being moved into tier two is a curse for businesses. They will be trapped in a no-man’s land of being open, but with severe restrictions that will significantly hit custom, all while unable to access the job support available in tier three. It is the worst of both worlds for businesses.

“Venues in London have already taken a hit due to the dip in inbound tourism and with people increasingly working from home. A move into tier two will be catastrophic for some of them and it is only going to be made worse by the end of the furlough scheme in under two weeks.

“The government must remove employer contributions from the Job Support Scheme for hospitality or apply tier three job support to tier two businesses. If it does not, we are looking at catastrophic business closures and widespread job losses in the capital as early as 1 November.”

In Wales, ministers are considering a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown in the country. A circuit breaker is a short set period where tighter restrictions are introduced in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19.

UK Hospitality has also voiced concerns that financial help would be needed to protect businesses and jobs.

David Chapman, UK Hospitality Cymru executive director for Wales, said: “Another lockdown, on top of the incoming travel ban, will be a huge hit for Welsh hospitality and tourism. If it is the case that a lockdown is on the way, we urgently need support from Westminster for Welsh businesses and a clear statement from the Welsh government about what it intends to do, along with a roadmap out of this catastrophe.

“We will need swift and comprehensive support to safeguard jobs and protect businesses that are integral to so many communities in Wales.”

On Monday, hospitality members will stage a protest in Parliament Square, London, against recent restrictions introduced for on-trade venues, such as the 10pm curfew.

There has been widespread criticism of the government’s crackdown on hospitality in recent weeks, as Public Health England data continues to show that Covid-19 cases linked to hospitality venues continue to be extremely low. The most recent figures show fewer than 3% of cases were linked to hospitality, with the majority of infections coming from educational settings, care homes and work places.

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