LONDON’s move into tougher Covid-19 restrictions is “another nail in the coffin” for the city’s pubs and a “hammer blow” to the West End’s restaurants and hotels, industry chiefs have warned.
Hospitality venues must close, except for takeaway and delivery, in the capital as well as parts of Essex and Hertfordshire from Wednesday as the areas are plunged into Tier 3 rules.
The fresh restrictions come into force just two weeks after pubs, restaurants, bars and cafes were allowed to reopen following a second national lockdown in England and could see them remain closed throughout the Christmas and New Year period.
The British Beer & Pub Association said in London alone the restrictions will force 1,250 pubs that remained open in Tier 2 to close, putting nearly 8,000 more jobs at risk.
In total, 56,000 jobs in the sector are now at risk with all of the capital’s 3,680 pubs forced to close except for takeaways, according to the trade association, which is calling for more financial support for pubs and brewers across the country.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “Moving into Tier 3 is another nail in the coffin for London’s pubs, as well as those affected in parts of Hertfordshire and Essex.
“It 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.
“It is cruel on hardworking publicans doing all they can to support their communities and invest in implementing all the required safety measures. Especially as the Government’s own evidence shows 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.”
UKHospitality called the Tier 3 move “illogical” and said the Government’s system puts an unfair burden on hospitality businesses without effectively tackling Covid-19.
The trade association’s chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “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.”
Will Bowlby, who runs the Kricket Indian restaurant chain in London, was also critical of the Government’s handling of the crisis.
“I understand that things change but I feel like there’s just been mixed messages,” he said.
“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.”
Clover Eziashi, who has run Lounge Brixton, in south London for around 20 years, said her “heart bleeds” at having to shut down again after preparing for Christmas.
“The lockdown of this last month and then opening up, people just went into a frenzy,” she said.
“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?”
The director of the Theatres Trust, Jon Morgan, branded the move announced on Monday a “disaster” for London’s theatres, adding: “Theatres have worked incredibly hard to create safe environments for audiences and through no fault of their own will now face enormous financial losses.”
Jace Tyrrell, chief executive at New West End Company, said: “However well telegraphed, today’s announcement comes as a hammer blow to the West End’s restaurants and hotels.
“Advising against travel will heap further pressure on retailers that have invested millions in enhanced safety measures and staff training to support trade.”
Additional Reporting by PA Media