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Tue 22nd Sep 2020 - Sector voices dismay and anger at 10pm curfew
Sector voices dismay and anger at 10pm curfew: The government will today confirm that all pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality in England will be required to close by 10pm from Thursday (24 September), in what UKHospitality has described as “another crushing blow” to sector businesses already struggling to recover. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will also say that the hospitality sector will be restricted by law to table service only. A No 10 spokesperson said: “No-one underestimates the challenges the new measures will pose to many individuals and businesses. We know this won’t be easy, but we must take further action to control the resurgence in cases of the virus and protect the NHS.” Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality chief executive, said: “These restrictions will come as another crushing blow for many hospitality businesses struggling to recover so it’s crucial these new rules are applied with flexibility. A hard-close time is bad for business and bad for controlling the virus – we need to allow time for people to disperse over a longer period. Table service has been widely adopted in some parts of the sector since reopening but it is not necessary across all businesses, such as coffee shops. It is hard to understand how these measures are the solution to fighting the disease when government data shows that just 5% of infections out of the home are related to hospitality. Where such restrictions have been put in place locally they have not cut infection rates, merely damaged business and cost jobs. Most critically, the government needs to recognise this will damage confidence even further and it is now inevitable that the sector will struggle long into 2021. A new support package is now essential. We need to see an early signal that the VAT cut will be extended through to the end of 2021; that the business rates holiday will continue next year; and an enhanced employment support package specifically for hospitality.” Martin Greenhow, managing director at MOJO (five bars in Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham and Harrogate) said: “With neither evidence to support the assumption that hospitality is driving infection – only 35 cases reported in the sector and as of yet no sign of the threatened dramatic upturn in deaths, the move to curtail the operational hours of our already crippled industry seems unjust and punitive, not to mention illogical and irrational. Are people more infectious after 10pm? Hospitality has slaved to work responsibly within the constraints laid out for us and now we are being thrown aside with scant concern for the impact these measures will have on our businesses and the wider economy.” In a Tweet, Loungers chairman Alex Reilley said: “Maybe all UK hospitality businesses should unite and collectively bar Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock from all hospitality premises in the UK – just a thought.” In another Tweet, David McDowall, chief operating officer of BrewDog, said: “The curfew concept confuses me massively. Does the government think that people will quietly head off home at 10.01pm? Surely it’s clear that this increases the chances of people leaving a safe and highly regulated environment, and heading straight to unregulated household gatherings? Thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of livelihoods have been placed at risk, as a result of the government’s inability to establish a competent testing network or functioning contact tracing programme. Infuriating, and totally avoidable.”


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