The evidence that justifies the controversial 10pm curfew should be published, a leading Tory MP said last night – as fury grew over the huge damage being done to the hospitality sector.
Commons science committee chairman Greg Clark demanded ‘transparency’ over the advice, as a Conservative council leader said the industry had been ‘thrown to the lions’.
Pub bosses have warned that the restrictions will lead to thousands of job losses, while business leaders say the curfew hammers sales, increases infection rates and has been implemented without any scientific basis.
Last night the impact of curfew on the hospitality industry was revealed in data from CGA, based on a survey of 7,000 venues.
Students at Nottingham Trent University queue to access an event around 7pm
Takings in venues last Friday were down 37 per cent, compared to the same day in 2019, and sales remained below 75 per cent of normal levels on each of the four days after curfew rules were enforced.
Writing to Health Secretary Matt Hancock and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, Mr Clark said: ‘It is important the Government is transparent about the scientific advice that it draws on to inform policy decisions so that the reasons for them can be seen and understood.’
He added: ‘Science proceeds through openness and robust scrutiny and it is important that this approach is followed by the Government during the pandemic.’
David Greenhalgh, boss of Bolton council, said the hospitality sector had been ‘thrown to the lions’ by the Government and the complex web of local restrictions was ‘breeding resentment’ in the North-West.
Takings in venues last Friday were down 37 per cent, compared to the same day in 2019. Pictured: An empty street in Soho, London, just before the 10pm closure
Four friends at Portsmouth University enjoyed a Tuesday night on the town in pubs and bars in Guildhall Walk
Mr Greenhalgh, whose area is one of the worst affected, told The Guardian: ‘It’s become too complex, too complicated. People feel very let down, they feel frustrated, there’s a lot of anger. It’s almost like they make a decision and no matter what happens they stand by it and they won’t reduce those restrictions.’
Pub bosses said it was inevitable the restrictions would result in job losses on a vast scale.
Fullers, which runs 400 pubs and hotels, said it may have to lay off up to 10 per cent of its workers – about 500 people – as its boss slammed the Prime Minister’s ‘mistakes’. Chief executive Simon Emeny told the BBC: ‘There are significant elements where he has made continual mistakes and we have seen the Government do U-turns on five or six key decisions. In a business environment, his style of leadership wouldn’t work.’
An empty Westgate Street in Cardiff, Wales, after pubs, bars and restaurants were subject to a 10pm curfew
During the first Friday night of early pub closures due to government guidelines, Northampton’s streets were empty
Tables in Soho, west London, were empty as restaurants and bars closed at 10pm
Hundreds of students climb on top of table tennis tables at a Coventry University accommodation block
Clive Watson, the chief executive of City Pubs Group, said the Government was not doing enough to save the industry from a jobs ‘bloodbath’, adding that the wage subsidy scheme announced last week was ‘not fit for purpose’. Adnam’s boss Andy Woods added: ‘We’re staring down the barrels of thousands of job losses.’
On Tuesday, more than 100 pub, brewery and restaurant chief executives, including the bosses of Burger King, Greene King and Pizza Express, wrote to Boris Johnson demanding the restrictions be reviewed, and calling on financial support for the sector.
Last week, Whitbread, which owns Premier Inn and Beefeater, said it expected 6,000 staff to lose their jobs, while Wetherspoon, which run 875 pubs, said 450 airport staff will be made redundant.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham called for an ‘urgent review’ of the policy, saying hospitality industries were ‘teetering on a cliff edge’. He added: ‘We’re looking at probably the most difficult winter we’ve ever known in this country. The curfew is causing major harm to our hospitality industries.’
The coronavirus measures have caused a backlash from dozens of Tory MPs, leading to fears it could hit ‘Red Wall’ seats in the North of England. Infection rates in the North-West have hit 280 per 100,000 – ten times the level that places foreign countries on the quarantine list. Liverpool Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said it was ‘quite worrying – the figures are going in the wrong direction’.