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A stricter system of tiers to be introduced at the end of England’s lockdown will “ruin Christmas” for struggling restaurants, hotels and pubs, the hospitality industry has warned.
Pubs and restaurants will be limited to takeaway and delivery services in the highest-risk, tier 3 areas, a tightening of previous rules that allowed dining. Household mixing will be banned indoors in the second and tier.
The new measures will come into place after 2 December, when England’s lockdown ends. The prime minister, Boris Johnson, on Monday afternoon confirmed the new restrictions would be tougher than before the lockdown. The UK’s other nations have differing rules.
UK Hospitality, a lobby group, said restrictions on household mixing would hit the industry’s revenue the hardest.
“This is effectively a lockdown for businesses in tier 3 and further purgatory for those facing even tighter restrictions in tier 2,” UK Hospitality said in a statement. “Rather than saving Christmas, these damaging measures will ruin it for hospitality businesses and their customers.”
UK Hospitality said surveys of its members showed that 94% of hospitality businesses would be loss making by March under England’s previous tier 3 restrictions, with many becoming unviable. For tier 2 it was 76%.
Before the start of the second English lockdown on 5 November, 7,440 pubs and 4,010 restaurants were in tier 3 areas, according to Altus Group, a property adviser. More than half of all pubs in England were in either tier 2 or 3 areas before the lockdown.
Hospitality business owners said they were angry with the government for what they saw as an unfair targeting of the sector, as well as lower levels of financial support compared with the earlier lockdowns.
Paul Crossman, a pubs campaigner who owns three pubs in York, said his pubs, which do not serve food, would probably be forced to remain closed under both tiers 2 and 3 if household mixing were to be banned, despite the expected relaxation of the 10pm curfew in tiers 1 and 2, which will allow pubgoers in lower-tier areas until 11pm to finish their drinks.
“The reason pubs are going under is because of the fixed overhead costs,” he said. “They’re looking down the barrel of years and years of rent arrears. Many [publicans] are choosing to walk away.”
Victoria MacDonald, who runs the Cellar House pub and the Old Ram Coaching Inn in Norfolk, said she wanted the government to trust hospitality businesses to run Covid-secure.
Tighter restrictions would be “incredibly devastating”, she said, adding that the popularity of takeaway food had diminished as the novelty wore off. “Financially it’s an absolute nightmare,” she added.
Greater Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham, has said many hospitality businesses would not survive a toughened system of tiered controls in England.
He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “To close all hospitality businesses in tier 3 areas – that will be large parts of the north – that will be devastating for many of those businesses. They will not survive that.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: England’s Covid tier system will ‘ruin Christmas’ for hospitality | Business