In a Commons statement this afternoon, the Prime Minister confirmed a reprieve for Christmas shopping and that retail and gyms can reopen, however pubs and restaurants are set to pay the price with devastating restrictions.
UK Hospitality chief Kate Nicholls said the PM was proposing a reopening “in name only” that felt “very unfair”. “We fear that 75 per cent of our businesses will be unviable with these restrictions lasting beyond December unless we get further help from the government.”
“We are looking at millions of jobs across not just hospitality but our wider supply chain.”
After December 2, non-essential shops will be allowed to reopen across the country in the hope that retailers can salvage part of their vital Christmas trade.
Gyms will be permitted to reopen in all tiers, and outdoor sport will be allowed to resume.
But, under the plan signed off by the Cabinet last night, most of the country will be placed in the top two tiers, where the hospitality sector will remain subject to heavy restrictions.
Sources say ‘most people’ would be placed in tiers two and three, where all indoor socialising with other households will be banned – potentially until the spring.
Hospitality firms in the top Tier could only be allowed to offer takeaways, while in Tier Two alcohol is only likely to be permitted with ‘substantial meals’.
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham was among those warning that many hospitality businesses would not survive a toughened system of tiered controls in England.
“I am worried about what I am hearing this morning. It seems that a toughened Tier 3 could be devastating for the hospitality industry and will hit cities and the city economy very, very hard indeed.”
“They seem to be going too far before Christmas to allow too much over Christmas and that will lead to a huge loss of hospitality businesses, which I would say is too big a price to pay.”
“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.”
Ms Nicholls said the news was “far worse than anyone could have anticipated”. She said, “This a cruel decision and it just feels as if the whole sector is being thrown to the wolves.”
“If the tiers had stayed as they were until March, we were already expecting 94 per cent of businesses in Tier 3 and 74 per cent of businesses in Tier 2 to go to the wall. Now we have restrictions that are even worse.”
“We make 25 per cent of our profits in the run-up to Christmas and the Government is taking that away.”
“This will have a catastrophic effect on a large number of businesses and all those jobs that were furloughed will be lost. You are talking about the prospect of a million job losses and 30-40,000 premises closing their doors for good.”