More areas including London moved into 'high' Covid tier

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

New restrictions: the latest measures come into force at one minute past midnight on Saturday 17 October
New restrictions: the latest measures come into force at one minute past midnight on Saturday 17 October

Related tags: London, Barrow-in-furness, Essex, Derbyshire, Chesterfield, York, Legislation, Government

Reports the capital is moving from 'medium' risk tier one to the 'high' tier two have been confirmed by health secretary Matt Hancock.

In a statement to the House of Commons, Hancock said Essex, Elmbridge (Surrey), Barrow-in-Furness (Cumbria), York, north east Derbyshire, Chesterfield (Derbyshire) and Erewash (Derbyshire) would also be moving into the high local Covid alert level from one minute past midnight on Saturday (17 October).

Restrictions for these areas include a ban on households mixing indoors, as well as the national baseline restrictions such as the 10pm curfew.

It also means the "rule of six" will continue to apply outdoors.

The Department of Health and Social Care stated these measures will be reviewed every 14 days to consider whether they are still appropriate.

Real estate adviser Altus Group estimated this will impact 3,640 pubs and 7,556 restaurants in London, across the 32 boroughs and the City of London.

Altus Group's head of property tax Robert Hayton said: “Further restrictive measures that adversely impacts trade, already at far lower levels than before the pandemic, without any discerning targeted support, could be the death knell.”

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls added that moving into the second tier would be a curse for businesses.

Worst of both worlds

"They will be trapped in a no man’s land of being open, but with severe restrictions that will significantly hit custom, all while unable to access the job support available in tier three. It is the worst of both worlds for businesses," she said.

“Venues in London have already taken a hit due to the dip in inbound tourism and with people increasingly working from home. A move into tier two will now be catastrophic for some of them and it is only going to be made worse by the end of the furlough scheme in under two weeks.

“The Government must remove employer contributions from the Job Support Scheme for hospitality or apply tier three job support to tier two businesses. If it does not, we are looking at catastrophic businesses closures and widespread job losses in the capital as early as one November.”

British Beer & Pub Association boss Emma McClarkin said tier two restrictions will decimate pubs, brewers and their supply chains in these regions unless a proper package of support is given to them.

She added: “All pubs are already particularly struggling due to the current restrictions of the 10pm curfew, rule of six and low consumer confidence exacerbated by low footfall caused by a lack of tourists and commuters. These further restrictions will leave most pubs fighting for their very survival.

“Tier two measures mean pubs can remain open, but households cannot mix inside them. This completely kills our pubs’ business model making many of them totally unviable, yet under tier two restrictions they are not eligible for any additional financial support from Government, unlike in tier three where additional support is provided. The knock-on effect to brewers and pubs’ supply chain partners will devastate them too without more support.

“Without additional financial support, specifically access to financial grants and a job retention scheme closer to that in tier three, many pubs will be closing their doors for good.

“The Government must now do the right thing and immediately announce financial support measures to ensure pubs in these regions can survive, to continue serving their local communities and supporting thousands of jobs. They must also clarify how long these restrictions will be in place and what criteria the decisions for moving in and out of the tiering system will be based on. We urge the Government to work with us on this.”

Danger zone

Pubs in areas being placed into tier two are being put into a devastating dangers zone, with additional restrictions but no additional support, according the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) national chair Nik Antona.

“These restrictions – particularly the ban on going to the pub with people outside your own household or support bubble – are a huge cause for concern for pubs across the Essex and the capital," he said.

“We know from other parts of the country that have had local lockdown restrictions imposed that they damage the ability of pubs to stay open, turn a profit and pay their staff. 

“Because pubs aren’t being forced to close, they aren’t eligible for Government support – despite being forced to operate under much tighter restrictions than other businesses. This also has a huge knock on effect for our brewers, who will struggle to get their product to market. 

“Government ministers must now introduce a new financial support package to help London’s pubs pay staff wages and fixed costs in the face of severely reduced trade that will come as a result of these restrictions. It’s the only way to avoid thousands of permanent pub closures and job losses. 

“CAMRA continues to encourage people in London and Essex to use pubs in a safe and responsible way during this period of restrictions in order to support our well-loved locals during these tough times.” 

The areas added today (Thursday 15 October) join Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Nottinghamshire in the second level of the Government’s tiered system.

Operators in these areas told The Morning Advertiser ​of their experiences​ operating under stricter restrictions.

Operator Jamie Hunt runs the Cotton Arms in east Cheshire and has already experienced “a sharp drop off in trade”.

Kathryn and David Boam operate real ale pub Dog & Parrot, Eastwood, Nottinghamshire and said they have been experiencing sleepless nights after the announcement of the ban.

Related topics: Legislation

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