Londoners have sat down to enjoy their last pub pints before Christmas – as industry experts warn more than 160,000 jobs in the hospitality industry have been put at risk by the move into Tier 3.
London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will be put under Tier Three curbs from tonight.
The announcement was made yesterday by Health Secretary Matt Hancock who also revealeda new strain of the virus has begun spreading across the UK.
But hospitality bosses slammed the ‘catastrophic’ decision to move London and parts of the home counties into the higher band of restrictions.
They warned forcing pubs, bars and restaurants to close will wipe off £2.7billion from the economy as trading will cease at their busiest time of year.
They called for an urgent support package for the hospitality sector to help businesses survive into the New Year.
It came as Londoners started drinking early at pubs across the capital before the city is plunged into Tier 3 tonight.
Some businesses in the city were offering pints for as little as 99p as they attempt to get rid of their stock with only hours to go before the shutdown.
Londoners started drinking early at pubs across the capital tpday before the city is plunged into Tier 3 tonight. Pictured: Drinkers at a Wetherspoons pub in south west London around 10.30am today
Some businesses were offering cut price drinks as they attempt to get rid of their stock with only hours to go before the shutdown
News of higher restrictions in London and parts of the home counties comes as:
- Britain yesterday recorded a further 20,263 coronavirus cases, in a rise of more than a third on last Monday’s total;
- Monday’s death toll stood at 232 people – in a 22.8 per cent spike on the 189 deaths seen on the same day last week;
- Health Secretary Matt Hancock has urged Britons to consider pre-isolating now before meeting vulnerable elderly relatives at Christmas to lessen the risk;
- The number of coronavirus cases in England dropped by a quarter during the second national lockdown, the Government-backed REACT-1 study has revealed.
Campaign for Pubs spokesperson, Greg Mulholland, slammed the government for announcing the decision less than two weeks before Christmas.
He said the government’s announcement is a ‘shocking way to treat publicans and their families’ and warned it would force many businesses to the brink.
The campaign manager and former MP said: ‘It’s devastating news for pubs and publicans in London and the home counties.
‘To move into Tier 3 just a few weeks after opening again to get some restricted trade, and then this just a few weeks before Christmas.
The whole of London will be plunged into Tier 3 lockdown tonight, leading drinkers in the capital to go out and get an early pint before the hospitality sector is forced to close under the new restrictions
Industry insiders called the minimal notice before the shutdown ‘catastropic’ and a ‘shocking way to treat publicans’
‘We’re very worried about the impact this will not only have on livelihoods but also mental health.
‘This is a shocking way to be treating publicans and their families particularly in the run up to Christmas.
Former MP and campaign manager for the Campaign for Pubs said the government’s announcement is a ‘shocking way to treat publicans and their families’ and warned it would force many businesses to the brink
‘The goverment keeps changing its mind and changing the rules and it’s having a devastating effect which will threaten the future of many of our beloved pubs in these higher tier areas up and down the country.’
The former MP for Leeds North West also highlighted how the short notice will leave many business owner high and dry with unusued stock – yet another addition to their financial woes.
‘Pubs will have stock on the basis that they were allowed to be open at this crucial trading time of the year, and now forced to close in a matter of days and dispose of that with no compensation whatsoever from the government,’ he said. ‘We need an urgent package of support.’
Industry insiders warned the closure of pubs would wipe billions of pounds off the UK economy and put thousands of jobs at risk.
According to the British Beer and Pub Association there are 3,680 pubs and 56,000 sector jobs in the capital alone.
Kate Nicholls, the head of UK Hospitality warned the closure would ‘change the face of the capital for years to come’.
She said: ‘The effect this shutdown will have on businesses is absolutely catastrophic.
Industry insiders warned only 1 in 5 of London’s hospitality venues had been able to reopen effectively since December 2 and the move into Tier 3 means many more may never reopen
‘The impact of this is both immediate and dire for those businesses forced to close and the effect will be also long term on wider businesses.
‘For those businesses directly affected it will wipe off £2.7bn from the London economy in the last two weeks of December.
‘It’s such a disproportionate effect because it’s the two busiest trading weeks in the year lost in the largest most valuable hospitality economy in the world.
Head of UK Hospitality Kate Nicholls called for an urgent package of support for the businesses forced to close as a result of the Tier 3 shutdown
‘It’s also put 160,000 jobs directly at risk just before Christmas.’
Ms Nicholls said only 1 in 5 of London’s hospitality venues had been able to reopen effectively since December 2 and the move into Tier 3 means many more may never reopen.
The government’s decision to move the ffected areas into Tier 3 within 48 hours also adds to the financial woes of pubs and restaurants who will be forced to dispose of their unusued stock.
Mr Mulholland added: ‘There’s huge anger amongst publicans and their families at the fact the government is allowing and indeed encouraging huge crowds of people to congregate to go shopping in a totally unregulated environment while scapegoating pubs and hospitality, forcing them to close and giving them derisory support in response.
A rise in infections means London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will be put under Tier Three curbs from tonight
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.
‘We must have adequate support, the government cannot continue to treat pubs the way that they have without properly supporting them.
‘The evidence based decision they’re taking is extremely questionable, indeed threadbare.
‘But nonetheless, now that they have taken this devastating decision, they need to come up with a proper package of support for all Tier 3 areas.
‘It leaves people at the end of a very difficult year with great worries about the future of their business and their ongoing livelihoods.’
Ms Nicholls joined calls for a comprehensive support package to support the businesses facing difficulty in the face of closure.
She called for the government to extend the business rates holiday into 2022, and extend the lower rate of VAT for the tourism and hospitality services for the whole of next year.
‘It’s going to be a domino effect unless we can get additional support to these businesses,’ she said.
‘That support will allow these businesses to make decisions about investment for next year in confidence, will avoid unnecessary job losses over the Christmas period and will allow support to be maintained throughout the recovery.’