Businesses will be pushed towards failure and more jobs put at risk as a result of moving London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire into tier 3, UKHospitality has warned.
The trade body said the government’s tier system places an “unfair, illogical and disproportionate burden” on hospitality businesses without effectively tackling Covid.
Chief executive, Kate Nicholls, blasted: “Putting hospitality businesses back into lockdown, which is effectively what Tier 3 amounts to, is not going to tackle increasing infection rates.
“There’s still no hard evidence that hospitality venues are a significant contributor for the spike in infections. Cases were higher at the end of the last lockdown – during which hospitality was shut down – than at the start.
“The spread is being predominantly driven through schools – even the Mayor of London has pointed this out and called for schools to stay shut until January. Yet, once again, it is hospitality that will take the hit. The government is cracking down on hospitality for an increase in the infection rates that occurred during a period when hospitality was forcibly closed. It makes no sense.”
Ms Nicholls said that pubs, restaurants, bars, cafes and hotels that have invested so much to make their venues safe will be forced to take another huge hit.
“The burden of a region being moved into Tier 3 falls almost exclusively on hospitality businesses. It is an illogical tactic that fails to tackle Covid effectively but does push businesses closer towards failure.
“The government must re-think its strategy to combating the spread of Covid, including moving areas like Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham into Tier 2. Just continuing to batter hospitality is not the answer.”
Nick Mackenzie, CEO at Greene King, said that moving London and other areas into Tier 3 the week before Christmas will further cripple the pub sector.
“Pubs in London have had an incredibly difficult time this year. Without workers and tourists, footfall has been exceptionally low, even when restrictions were lifted. Two lockdowns and a long list of restrictive policies have left the hospitality sector in dire straits.
“This week would normally be a bumper week for pubs in the capital, instead, many will have to close their doors yet again, despite a significant amount of investment to ensure safe socialising. What we need from the government now is further support to help hospitality businesses get through to the spring, so that can come out the other side of this crisis and play an important role in helping the economy to bounce back.”
Speaking before health secretary Matt Hancock confirmed to the House of Commons yesterday that London would be placed into Tier 3, Des Gunewardena, CEO and cofounder of D&D London, said: “In the context of the complete lack of evidence that there are significant Covid infections happening in restaurants, to close restaurants and cancel bookings in what is normally the busiest week of the year would feel like an almost gratuitous kick in the teeth to London restaurants.
“And if government does want to treat the hospitality industry as its Covid whipping boy it should at least step up and fully compensate us as for example the French and German governments are doing.”
Cokey Sulkin, co-founder of Dirty Bones, added: “You can’t put a price on people’s lives but moving London into tier 3 will be a hammer blow to all hospitality businesses in London. We have all been working incredibly hard, doing what we can to focus on a productive and profitable December.
“Putting London into tier3 is essentially a third lockdown; each time this happens we are talking about significant losses, as well as more valuable time eaten up dealing with suppliers and landlords for further concessions, when we should be looking forward – putting our post C-19 business plans into motion’.”