All hospitality venues in England have been ordered to close by 10pm from Thursday to help curb the spread of Covid-19 – part of a series of new restrictions outlined by the government.
In a television broadcast on Tuesday night (22 September), Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled the new measures, which he said, could last for up to six months.
Not only will bars, pubs, restaurants and all other hospitality venues need to close – with doors locked – by 10pm, the sector will be restricted to table service only and face coverings will be compulsory for staff and non-seated customers.
The fine for breaking the rules has also increased to £200 on the first offence. The government has warned of “tougher measures” if people do not follow the latest restrictions.
UKHospitality has called on the government to deliver a package of support for hospitality. The trade body has warned that job losses and business failures will be an inevitability unless support is immediate and wide-ranging.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “These restrictions are a further, potentially fatal blow for many hospitality businesses.
“In isolation, they may appear moderate, but the cumulative effect is going to be hugely damaging. Consumer confidence is going to take another hit and we cannot hope to recover while confidence remains low.
“The shift back towards working from home is going to hit city centre hospitality very hard. These businesses have already lagged behind as office workers and tourists have stayed away and they are going to take another battering.
“Most disheartening is the announcement that they are potentially in place for six months. Lots of businesses will not survive this and we are going to see more and more people lose their jobs unless we have the support to counterbalance these restrictions.
“The government must immediately announce an exhaustive package of financial support, otherwise our sector is facing ruin. Employment support must be extended.
“The furlough scheme is already wining down and it comes to a complete halt at the end of October. Unless it is extended for our sector, businesses are inevitably going to have to make staff redundant. We are looking at a steady stream of job losses for six months, otherwise.
“We must have longer-term support to enable businesses to rebuild in 2021. The VAT cut for the sector must be extended as must the business rates holiday.
“We also need a rent-debt settlement package, otherwise whole businesses are going to go under with widespread redundancies.”