'Shambolic' – anticipated measures set to hit hospitality hardest

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Social response: people from across the industry have voiced their frustration at the reports of new measures for the trade
Social response: people from across the industry have voiced their frustration at the reports of new measures for the trade

Related tags Legislation Government Boris johnson ukhospitality

The trade has slammed the Government for the possible measures it is set to impose, once national lockdown restrictions are lifted next month (December).

According to reports, the measures include the 10pm curfew being replaced with an 11pm curfew, where pubs should call last orders at 10pm to give customers an hour to drink up and leave the premises.

It also could mean a change to the tier system.

Under the rules prior to the second lockdown, in the medium tier one, the rule of six was in place inside and outside.

However, under the reported new rules, the 11pm curfew will be enforced and possible new limits of multiple households inside.

For the second tier (high), the new measures could mean pubs can only operate if they serve a "substantial meal", something that will have a significant impact on wet-led pubs.

Under the new third 'very high' restrictions, pubs must close and only serve takeaway – the same service as in the national lockdowns.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce a statement in the House of Commons with an update on restrictions later today (3.30pm Monday 23 November) before giving a televised address to the nation this afternoon.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said the predicted restrictions were "totally unacceptable".

Night-time adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord tweeted: “Shambolic. I cannot and will not, just sit by and allow the Government toe destroy hospitality.

“It will spell the end of the traditional pub as we know it. Andy Burnham called first thing and we are speaking again later.

“We cannot accept this. We will fight for the sector.”

BrewDog chief operating office David McDowall stated businesses of all sizes wouldn't survive the measures.

Pub operator Adam Brooks said if the information was true, it would be the end of the pub industry.

Chief executive officer of Northern Restaurant & Bar awards, Manchester Art Fair and The Manchester Contemporary Thom Hetherington pointed to how few cases of the virus have come from the sector.

Business rates and retail expert Paul Turner-Mitchell voiced his concerns on the reports.

Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) national chairman Nik Antona said: "Publicans across the country will be angry this morning, and they have every right to be. Once again, the hospitality sector is being singled out for further restrictions without evidence. This is a kick in the teeth to the vast majority of publicans who have invested money and time into making their premises Covid-secure, and for the consumers that were using pubs to socialise safely.  

“CAMRA is particularly dismayed to see the extension of the ‘substantial meal’ requirement to pubs in tier two. Yet again, decision makers are punishing wet-led, community pubs. Publicans now face an excruciating wait for further details on which areas will sit in which tier – and after that many will have to make agonising decisions about the future of their businesses.  

“If the Government wishes to continue with these unfair and un-evidenced plans, it must announce a proper, sector-specific support package or we will see mass pub closures and mass job losses as communities lose their beloved locals forever.” 

The Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) called for further consultation with the sector and clarity in the Government's communication and guidance for future restrictions on the trade.

CEO Michael Kill said: "We are anxious in anticipation of the announcement of the restrictions that will be implemented from the 2 December 2020.  Even at this late stage, we reiterate our concerns, and implore the Government to consider some specific insights from the sector, with the impending communication of new restrictions.

“Please consider last orders an hour before closure, will create mass ordering prior to the service closing, with the potential for more people consuming alcohol quicker over a short period of time, and then systematically spilling out on the street at 11pm, it’s why the traditional ‘happy hour’ was scrapped.”

“It would be more considered to have a last entry or staggered closure strategy relevant to the individual premises operating licence. This would then detract from people buying in excess to beat last orders and would allow businesses that are able to open the opportunity to generate some sustainable trade within a safe environment.

“Businesses already have varying licensed hours which naturally generate a staggered closure time for businesses within cities as part of a Night-Time Economy Strategy, which has successfully avoided mass gatherings at the point of egress for years.”

Kill went onto outline how the measures do not deal with the issue of mixed households within the tiered system – something that cannot be policed effectively and has huge limitations for business.

He added: "It has been stated on many occasions and re-enforced by ministers at many levels that the businesses within the night-time economy are one of the safest environments for people to socialise. We have invested in staffing, technology and our business environments to create these Covid-safe spaces, and are highly regulated with very clear objectives which are upheld and scrutinised by licensing officers across the UK.

“The facts are, the longer our sector is closed or limited in its ability to open through restrictions, people out of desperation will strive to find an outlet or an alternative, particularly at this time of year. Whether its an illegal event, house party or lock in. It all adds to pressures on police and emergency services, something that the Government has suggested it’s trying to avoid.

“The Government needs to consult further with the industry and create realistic operating parameters for us to be able to manage our businesses safely and effectively, and consider the public needs, especially during the festive period.”

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