Government 10pm curfew 'crushing blow'

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Increased risk: the UK alert level has risen from three to four
Increased risk: the UK alert level has risen from three to four

Related tags: Legislation, Government, ukhospitality, Prime minister, Boris johnson

The Government's plan to impose a 10pm curfew to all pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality businesses has been labelled 'a crushing blow' for trade.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce all pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality businesses will have to close at 10pm each day from 24 September. In addition, table service will be compulsory for venues in the sector.

The PM is expected make a further announcement on the new measures in the House of Commons today (22 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."

Support essential

Nicholls outlined how this will damage confidence even further and said it was inevitable the sector will struggle long into next year.

She added: "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.”

This comes after the UK alert level has moved from three to four, meaning transmission is “high or rising” according to chief medical officers.

The curfew follows health secretary Matt Hancock said the hospitality sector would be given answers on restrictions in the “very near future” when responding to being asked if pub operators should prepare for closures.

Local measures

There had been reports a national curfew was being considered, with many pubs in parts of England and Wales already ordered to close at 10pm or 11pm in local measures.

Figures from real estate adviser Altus Group found one in 10 pubs in England are under localised restrictions on opening including Lancashire (excluding Blackpool), Merseyside (including Warrington and Halton), as well as Northumberland, North and South Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham.

This affects 1,027 pubs across Lancashire, 1,174 in Merseyside from Tuesday and 1,553 in the north east region, according to Altus Group.

The Welsh Government announced yesterday (Monday 21 September) that pubs in Bridgend, Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport have to close by 11pm, coming into effect from 6pm tomorrow (Tuesday 22 September). This followed a curfew announced in Rhondda Cynon Taf last week (Wednesday 16 September).

Altus Group figures stated 706 pubs in Wales will be impacted by the curfew, equating to one in five Welsh pubs.

Related topics: Legislation

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