Hawksmoor chief Will Beckett said the chain’s experience of managing a restaurant under tighter Covid restrictions in Manchester would serve it well as its London sites prepare to operate under similar conditions from tomorrow.
The capital will move to Tier 2 level on Saturday, meaning that households will no longer be allowed to mix at its six London restaurants.
In a note to customers yesterday, Mr Beckett said the group was perfectly prepared to cope with the change.
“The good news is that we’ve already been dealing with more or less identical restrictions in Manchester since July, and although we understand that they are likely to affect how you use restaurants, the last two months have taught us that the restaurant experience is largely unchanged. Hawksmoor Manchester has remained a vibrant, enjoyable restaurant ever since.”
Mr Beckett said the steakhouse chain planned to contact anybody with a reservation to check what they want to do, and to let them know about the new rules. It will also do the same for new bookings at the point of reservation, confirmation and, if necessary, on arrival.
He said that it seems the government is increasingly making a distinction between venues where customers can sit and enjoy a meal and those where they are likely to go just for a few drinks.
“Whatever you think about that, we believe it corroborates our view that Hawksmoor is a safe place to spend time, and that short of a national lockdown we all need somewhere where we can enjoy a couple of hours away from the craziness of the situation outside. We have done a great deal to become Covid-secure.”
Elsewhere, trade body UK Hospitality warned that moving London into Tier 2 would be catastrophic for its hospitality businesses, unless improved job support and grants are made available immediately.
Chief executive Kate Nicholls said being moved into Tier 2 would trap operators 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 3.
“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 2 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 3 job support to Tier 2 businesses. If it does not, we are looking at catastrophic businesses closures and widespread job losses in the capital as early as 1 November.”