Coronavirus UK: Hospitality trade hits back at Tier 3 London lockdown

‘It makes no sense’: Hospitality trade hits back at Tier 3 London lockdown as bosses say pubs and restaurants will ‘take another huge hit’ that will NOT lower Covid infections

  • Hospitality bosses lashed out at Matt Hancock’s ‘illogical’ plan to move London into Tier 3 lockdown
  • UKHospitality’s Kate Nicholls said it pushes businesses ‘towards failure’ and effectively ‘cancels Christmas’
  • The Confederation of British Industry warned thousands of jobs could be at risk from Tier 3 restrictions
  • British Beer & Pub Association said survival of ‘the great British pub hangs in balance’ due to Covid curbs

Hospitality bosses tonight lashed out at Matt Hancock’s ‘illogical’ plan to plunge London back into Tier 3 lockdown and warned that ‘cruel’ restrictions on business will push the collapsing sector ‘closer towards failure’.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said putting hospitality venues including pubs and restaurants in the capital back into the toughest shutdown is not supported by ‘hard evidence’ and said the move effectively ‘cancels Christmas’. 

She added that the ‘continued demonisation of the hospitality sector is now becoming insane’, telling MailOnline: It is literally the definition of insanity. The Government continues to enforce the same illogical regulations and expects a different outcome each time.’ 

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) warned that thousands of jobs could be at risk from Tier 3 restrictions being imposed, and called on ministers to ‘do everything possible’ to help firms survive.

Eddie Curzon, the CBI’s London director, added: ‘Businesses – particularly those in sectors like retail and hospitality – will have been counting on a festive fillip to help mitigate months of hardship, and further restrictions now will come as a devastating blow. Thousands of jobs and livelihoods could be at risk.’ 

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of The British Beer & Pub Association called the move into Tier 3 ‘another nail in the coffin for London’s pubs, as well as those affected in parts of Hertfordshire and Essex’. 

She claimed the lockdown measures could ‘completely destroy many pubs in London and parts of Hertfordshire and Essex who have taken bookings for the lead up to Christmas and New Year’s Eve if the tiers don’t change before then’.

Calling the restrictions ‘cruel’, she added it punished ‘hardworking publicans doing all they can to support their communities and invest in implementing all the required safety measures’ – pointing to government evidence showing pubs are safe.

‘It is also cruel in stopping friends, families and loved-ones from using their local this Christmas as a safe space to socialise in, with all the evidence showing that pubs are ranked amongst the lowest places for transmission,’ she told MailOnline.   

‘In London alone, it will now see the final 1,250 pubs who had remained open in tier two which were supporting 8,000 livelihoods forced to close. A far bigger package of financial support, with wider eligibility for all businesses impacted, across all regions, is needed if our sector is to survive the Tier 2 and 3 restrictions this winter. The survival of the great British pub as we know it hangs in the balance.’ 

The Campaign for Real Ale called the move ‘absolutely devastating news for pubs and breweries in and around the capital’ and said the mass closure of thousands of pubs before Christmas ‘will be a real blow to Londoners’. 

Hospitality chiefs warned against imposing further curbs on the under-fire sector after Mr Hancock today announced millions of Londoners will plunged into a Tier 3 shutdown at midnight on Wednesday, just days before Christmas.  

He said areas of Hertfordshire and Essex will also go into Tier 3 after seeing ‘sharp and exponential’ growth. It means around 60 per cent of the population of England will be under the highest level of restrictions.  

The Tier 3 move could devastate businesses with pubs, restaurants and culture venues closed, while shoppers from Tier 2 zones would be barred from shopping in its major retail hubs like Oxford Street. West End theatres are also readying themselves to close after tomorrow night’s performances.  

Hospitality bosses tonight lashed out at Matt Hancock’s ‘illogical’ plan to plunge London back into Tier 3 lockdown and warned that ‘cruel’ restrictions on business will push the collapsing sector ‘closer towards failure’

UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls said putting hospitality venues including pubs and restaurants in the capital back into the toughest shutdown is not supported by ‘hard evidence’ and said the move effectively ‘cancels Christmas’

What are the Tier 3 rules? 

  • Indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas, theatres and bowling alleys must close;
  • Pubs, restaurants and cafes must close except for takeaway;
  • Shops and hairdressers and salons will be allowed to remain open; 
  • Groups of six will be allowed to meet outdoors only; 
  • Crowds at live events will be banned;
  • People should avoid travelling out of, or into, Tier 3 areas unless it is unavoidable;
  • People from separate households cannot meet indoors and the rule of six applies outside. 

UKHospitality CEO Mrs Nicholls told MailOnline the curbs ‘make no sense’. She said: ‘Putting hospitality businesses back into lockdown, which is effectively what Tier 3 amounts to, is not going to tackle increasing infection rates.

‘There’s still no hard evidence that hospitality venues are a significant contributor for the spike in infections. Cases were higher at the end of the last lockdown – during which hospitality was shut down – than at the start. 

‘The spread is being predominantly driven through schools – even the Mayor of London has pointed this out and called for schools to stay shut until January. Yet, once again, it is hospitality that will take the hit. 

‘The Government is cracking down on hospitality for an increase in the infection rates that occurred during a period when hospitality was forcibly closed. It makes no sense.

‘So many pubs, restaurants, bars, cafes and hotels, having invested so much to make their venues safe, are only just clinging on by the skin of their teeth, but will be forced to take another huge hit. 

‘The burden of a region being moved into tier 3 falls almost exclusively on hospitality businesses. It is an illogical tactic that fails to tackle COVID effectively but does push businesses closer towards failure.

‘The Government must re-think its strategy to combating the spread of COVID, including moving areas like Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham into Tier 2. Just continuing to batter hospitality is not the answer.’ 

The Campaign For Pubs told MailOnline that the move into Tier 3 is ‘devastating for pubs across the city, that have only been able to trade partially for the past 13 days’. 

Alastair Kerr, its south-west representative, said: ‘This is a huge blow to the hardworking publicans and their families, that have invested heavily into making their businesses Covid-secure and safe for their customers and staff alike. 

The new Tier 3 areas 

As well as London, Matt Hancock outlined parts of Essex and Hertfordshire would also be placed in Tier 3.

Essex:

  • Basildon
  • Brentwood
  • Harlow
  • Epping Forest
  • Castle Point
  • Rochford
  • Maldon
  • Braintree
  • Chelmsford
  • Thurrock
  • Southend-on-Sea

Hertfordshire

  • Broxbourne
  • Hertsmere
  • Watford
  • Three Rivers

‘It is also a hammer blow for trading that a week before Christmas they have been told to shut up shop and effectively stop trading in what should be one of the busiest times of the year for publicans and their pubs. 

‘We are deeply concerned of the lack of support from central Government and will continue to demand that the Government gives better protections and a proper economic support package to pubs in London and across the UK’. 

The owner of one restaurant in south London says her ‘heart bleeds’ having to shut down again when preparations have been made for Christmas.

Clover Eziashi has run Lounge Brixton for around 20 years said: ‘We’ve seen lots of things happen before and we’ve been able to ride the storm.

‘As an independent you can do that because you can expand and contract, we’ve obviously had to contract a lot more than is usual.’

Speaking from her restaurant, which was serving a handful of customers on Monday afternoon, she added: ‘The lockdown of this last month and then opening up, people just went into a frenzy. 

‘It’s just not working, obviously it hasn’t worked shutting us down again when we’ve already put so much money into restocking, that’s where my heart bleeds a little bit. We’ve geared up for Christmas, what are we going to do with all of this stock?’

Clover Eziashi said she thinks the Government should have spoken to more business owners ‘on the ground’ about its approach.

She explained: ‘Some of the things they have put into place have not been thought through and I think that’s a general consensus among most people and that’s because they haven’t really asked people on the ground.

‘From where I am talking to customers, if something doesn’t make sense, they’re not going to adhere to it and if there’s conflicting things going on then it’s not going to work.’ 

Clover Eziashi said she thinks the Government should have spoken to more business owners ‘on the ground’ about its approach.

She explained: ‘Some of the things they have put into place have not been thought through and I think that’s a general consensus among most people and that’s because they haven’t really asked people on the ground.

Matt Hancock told the Commons today that a new strain of coronavirus could be driving a surge in cases as he announced millions of Londoners are to be plunged into a Tier 3 shutdown

Millions of London parents face an anxious wait to see if schools are shut early after a Labour council backed by Sadiq Khan asked headteachers to shut their gates at the end of today because of rising coronavirus cases in the capital.

Greenwich Council leader Danny Thorpe has been accused of ‘an appalling lack of leadership’ after announcing his decision on Twitter last night amid fears London’s 20 other Labour councils could follow suit.

But Cllr Thorpe, a former teacher supported by Britain’s teaching unions, did not specify on what scientific basis officials had reached the decision, leading to accusations he was putting scoring political points above the education of children.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan wants all London secondary schools and colleges to shut before the end of term on Friday – in defiance of the government’s instruction to keep them open – blaming rising Covid-19 cases.  But Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer came out against Mr Khan this morning and told LBC: ‘I am very reluctant to close our schools’.

One senior government source told MailOnline that the intervention from Sadiq Khan and the Greenwich Labour leader had more than a ‘whiff of political opportunism’. 

Business Secretary Alok Sharma today blasted the Labour-led calls and said: ‘We want to keep schools open’. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson warned yesterday that schools who do not stay open face legal action – but has not used the clause inserted in the Coronavirus Act that can compel schools to stay open. Instead London’s Regional Schools Commissioner has written to Greenwich Council urging them to reserve their decision.

Panicked parents scrambling to find childcare with just 24 hours notice amid growing concerns schools could remain closed in January. Some families said the decision had left their children in tears. 

 

‘From where I am talking to customers, if something doesn’t make sense, they’re not going to adhere to it and if there’s conflicting things going on then it’s not going to work.’

Tory MP Nickie Aiken said Tier 3 restrictions will have ‘devastating economic consequences’ but that she accepts they are needed to slow the spread of Covid-19.

The Cities of London and Westminster representative said: ‘I am bitterly disappointed in what we’re having to go through in London at the moment.  

‘I have been fighting hard against having Tier 3 imposed on us but, having seen the data, I now accept that it is necessary to protect our NHS and our health.

‘However there is no doubt that Tier 3 restrictions will have devastating economic consequences for central London – especially on our hospitality sector and will be hard on residents here as well.

‘I’ve seen our pubs, bars and restaurants working incredibly hard under very difficult circumstances to keep us all safe, and this is going to hurt them.’

Tory candidate for London mayor Shaun Bailey said ‘putting all of London into Tier 3 is a mistake’ and called on the Government to rethink their decision and ‘take a targeted approach’. Speaking to MailOnline, he added: ‘London’s population is nearly twice the size of Scotland’s. Yet they have five Tiers and we only have one.  

‘Six months from now, when the vaccine is rolled out, infection rates will no longer be such a problem. It’s our duty to make sure mass unemployment isn’t a problem either.’

The owner of one London restaurant chain described this year as ‘very difficult’ for his business. Will Bowlby who runs Kricket said of the capital going into Tier 3: ‘We’re used to it now unfortunately. We’re used to opening and shutting and opening and shutting and we just have to keep going.’

From a business perspective, he thinks the Government has handled things ‘really badly’ and ‘mixed messages’ have made things more difficult.

Speaking from the Brixton branch of his Indian restaurants, Mr Bowlby said: ‘It’s an incredibly difficult job, I can’t deny that, they haven’t got it easy but the mixed messages, things have not been made clear.

‘The messaging hasn’t been clear, it’s been very difficult to pivot sometimes when really you don’t know what’s going on.’

He added: ‘I understand that things change but I feel like there’s just been mixed messages. Whether it’s applied to businesses or to people in general, it’s made it a lot more difficult to adapt. You would have thought over time their messaging might have got a bit clearer but it hasn’t.’

Meanwhile there is anxiety that Kent, already in Tier 3, could face a further tightening of restrictions with a surge in cases that has yet to fall.

In an apparent attempt to assuage anger, Mr Hancock indicated that the next review will be on December 23 – rather than December 30 as had been expected.   

The Government agreed to review the tier levels every two weeks at the latest after they were introduced on December 2, in order to pass the legislation needed in the face of a backbench rebellion. 

But the decision was brought forward from Wednesday to today because of the spike in numbers, with a key cabinet committee having met this morning. 

Boris Johnson is facing a backlash from Tories who want the capital to avoid Tier  3, with some threatening to vote against extending pandemic restrictions the next time they need updating

Introducing the restrictions sooner means they have more time to take effect before the nationwide loosening of restrictions from December 23-27, with up to three families allowed to meet without social distancing. 

Earlier, London mayor Sadiq Khan warned Tier 3 would be ‘catastrophic’ without extra help for the city’s businesses, coming in what should be a ‘golden quarter’ of the year before Christmas.

He told Sky News: ‘If the government decides to do that they must provide additional support over and above what has been offered to make sure these businesses go bust,’ he told Sky News.

‘If they go bust not only will it lead to hundreds of thousands of Londoners being made unemployed, but our ability to recover from this pandemic will be made much harder. It is in nobody’s interest for these businesses to go bust, December is a crucial month for many of these business.’ 

Covid cases rising in every part of London, figures show

The rate of new coronavirus cases has increased across every area of London, while the number of Covid-19 hospital admissions in the capital has risen to the highest level since April, new data shows. 

The latest data, published on Sunday, shows that coronavirus rates rose across every local authority area in London in the seven days to December 9 compared with the previous week.

Havering has the highest rate in London, with 1,314 new cases recorded in the seven days to December 9 – the equivalent of 506.3 cases per 100,000 people.

This is up from 321.3 in the seven days to December 2.

Redbridge has the second highest rate, up from 296.5 to 398.1, with 1,215 new cases.

Waltham Forest is in third place, where the rate has risen from 258.9 to 385.2, with 1,067 new cases.

The figures, for the seven days to December 9, are based on tests carried out in laboratories (pillar one of the Government’s testing programme) and in the wider community (pillar two).

The rate is expressed as the number of new cases per 100,000 people.

Data for the most recent four days (December 10-13) has been excluded as it is incomplete and does not reflect the true number of cases.

Meanwhile, the most recent data also shows that there were 248 people admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in London on December 9, the highest number since April 28 when there were also 248 Covid admissions.

The data, updated on Sunday, includes people admitted to hospital who tested positive for Covid-19 in the 14 days prior to admission, and those who tested positive in hospital after admission.

Inpatients diagnosed with Covid-19 after admission are reported as being admitted on the day prior to their diagnosis. 

 

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