Government plans 10pm curfew for hospitality

The government’s plan to impose a hard 10pm close time for all pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality businesses in England has been labelled a “crushing blow” for the trade.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to make an official announcement today (22 September), where he is expected to detail the new restrictions, which include introducing the 10pm closure rule, as well as compulsory table service for all venues from Thursday 24 September.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “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.

“A hard close time is bad for business and bad for controlling the virus – we need to allow time for people to disperse over a longer period.

“Table service has been widely adopted in some parts of the sector since reopening but it is not necessary across all businesses, such as coffee shops.

“It is hard to understand how these measures are the solution to fighting the disease when Government data shows that just 5% 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, 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. We need to see an early signal that the VAT cut will be extended through to the end of 2021; that the business rates holiday will continue next year; and an enhanced employment support package specifically for hospitality.

“We agree with the Government that we are all in this together. Hospitality has played its part by investing in Covid-secure venues and reassuring their customers.

“Now, it’s time for Government to demonstrate its commitment to the sector and its recovery – hundreds of thousands of livelihoods depend upon it.”

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