Greater Manchester tier three restrictions a ‘bitter disappointment’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Trade impact: the new restrictions on Greater Manchester will hit thousands of pubs in the region
Trade impact: the new restrictions on Greater Manchester will hit thousands of pubs in the region

Related tags: Greater manchester, Legislation, Government

Placing the Greater Manchester region into the strictest ‘very high’ tier is another “huge blow” to the trade, industry bodies have said.

Licensees across the city region will have to close their doors from one minute past midnight on Friday (23 October) unless they are operating as a restaurant serving a "significant meal", where they can only serve alcohol with this meal.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the region would join Liverpool and Lancashire in the strictest part of the tiered system yesterday​ (Tuesday 20 October). 

This followed discussions between the Government and the city’s leaders, including mayor Andy Burnham, debating the level of support the region would receive.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “This is another huge blow for our sector and a very bitter disappointment for hospitality businesses in Manchester. These businesses are either operating under extreme restrictions or closed altogether and this will only increase the pressure.

“We need a practical and workable package of support for the whole of Manchester’s hospitality sector in order to keep these businesses afloat and jobs alive. Jobs, once lost, are not always easily revived and businesses closed not easily reopened."

Clear roadmap needed

Nicholls added: “Furthermore, there must be a clear roadmap out of tier three – a clear set of criteria of what must be achieved to lower the alert level, and what support will be there upon lowering it, so that businesses can do all the planning possible to stay afloat. Job support for those businesses currently in tier two must also be much more comprehensive, to help businesses survive and to cushion the transition out of tier three.

“The funds already invested to save firms and jobs must not be wasted. There is talk of and accusations that the situation in Manchester had become politicised. It is vital such an approach is not taken - politics cannot get in the way of addressing the plight of battered businesses and their hardworking staff.”

British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin highlighted how not only will the measures hit pubs but suppliers too.

“Tier three restrictions will have a devastating impact on pubs, brewers and their wider supply chain in Greater Manchester unless a proper support package is available to all businesses impacted," she said.

“Pubs in Greater Manchester were already struggling with the 10pm curfew, rule of six, lower levels of consumer confidence and a huge drop in domestic and international tourism.

“These additional tier three measures mean pubs in Greater Manchester can only remain open if they serve substantial meals, but with even more restrictions including no mixed household groups either inside or outside and only being allowed to serve alcohol with a substantial meal.

“This will kill the business model of more than 600 food-led pubs. The remaining 1,300 pubs who don’t serve substantial meals will be forced to close completely.”

People business

McClarkin said the survival of all pubs in either of these categories is hanging perilously in the balance.

“Thousands of jobs will be lost too if the Government doesn’t take action," she added. "We are a people business – our staff and customers are everything – we are nothing without them. In Greater Manchester alone, 32,000 livelihoods are supported by these local pubs.

“Government must now do the right thing and provide our sector with a job retention scheme that will truly protect jobs.

“We also need clarity on the level of cash grants available that must be sufficient to cover the lost revenue and high fixed costs these pubs face. The Government’s current grants – as low as £325 per week for many pubs – are simply not enough. These grants need to be exempt from state aid restrictions to ensure they reach all the businesses that need protecting. They must also be delivered quickly to ensure pubs do not permanently close due to lack of cash flow caused by not receiving the grants in time to save them.

“Support also needs to be made available to brewers and the wider supply chain businesses also seeing their custom taken from them overnight. We desperately need this if we want our local pubs to survive to serve their communities and support thousands of local jobs.

“Now Greater Manchester has been placed in tier three, the restrictions must be reviewed on a frequent basis – at least every two weeks – and re-categorised as soon as deemed appropriate. To do this the Government must clarify what criteria the decisions for transitioning in and out of the tiering system will be based on. We urge the Government to work closely with our sector on this.”

Related topics: Legislation

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