Pubs and restaurants across England must have a 10pm closing time from today under new COVID-19 restrictions that have been described as another crushing blow for the industry.
In measures set out by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, all hospitality venues will also be restricted by law to table service only. Similar restrictions have been announced for Scotland.
The announcements came after UK’s COVID-19 Alert Level rose from three to four meaning transmission is high or rising exponentially. Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested that pubs and restaurants are one of the key places of transmission of the virus.
This has been strongly rejected by hospitality leaders who pointed to Public Health England data showing that out of 729 new incidents reported in one week, just 34 to a food outlet or restaurant setting.
“These restrictions will come as another crushing blow for many hospitality businesses struggling to recover so it’s crucial these new rules are applied with flexibility,” commented UKHospitality chief Kate Nicholls.
She added that she found it hard to understand how these measures are the solution to fighting the disease when government data shows that just five percent of infections out of the home are related to hospitality.
“Where such restrictions have been put in place locally, they have not cut infection rates, merely damaged business and cost jobs. Most critically, the government needs to recognise this will damage confidence even further and it is now inevitable that the sector will struggle long into 2021. A new support package is now essential,” noted Nicholls.
“We agree with the government that we are all in this together. Hospitality has played its part by investing in COVID-secure venues ad reassuring their customers. Now, it’s time for the government to demonstrate its commitment to the sector and its recovery, hundreds of thousands of livelihoods depend on it.”