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Mon 14th Dec 2020 - Sector brands London’s move to tier three from Wednesday as ‘disaster’
Sector brands London’s move to tier three from Wednesday as ‘disaster’: London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will move into the highest level of coronavirus restrictions from one minute past midnight on Wednesday (16 December), MPs have been told. The move will see thousands of bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants close in the capital and surrounding areas after Tuesday night, except for takeaway, delivery and click and collect services. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls pointed fingers at the retail industry for the recent spike in infections, after the capital’s major shopping destinations saw a 93.5% jump in footfall over the weekend. “The increase in infections that are being reported in London boroughs are also not a result of the recent reopening of the hospitality sector, as we know due to the incubation period of the disease,” she said. “Any harsher restrictions placed on the capital’s hospitality sector would have questionable effect on reducing transmission while plunging the sector into an even deeper crisis that would result in many more business failures and jobs lost.” Nicholls previously said: “Hospitality has continued to take on a disproportionate burden to allow other parts of the economy to reopen during this crisis. These businesses have invested significant time, effort and money to create covid-secure spaces, and they can play a role in keeping transmission rates down.” More than 25,000 UK hospitality venues have already buckled under the weight of the pandemic, with industry figures warning that hundreds of thousands of redundancies linger on the horizon as the tier system looks set to stay until the spring. Under tier three measures, people must not meet socially indoors, in private gardens, or at most outdoors public venues with anyone they do not live with or are not in a support bubble with. The heightened restrictions also mean fans will likely once again be banned from football stadiums and other sporting venues. And theatres are also set to have to close their doors once more. It comes after the latest data from Public Health England showed there was an increase in coronavirus case rates in all 32 London boroughs in the seven days to 9 December. The seven-day rate has also exceeded 200 cases per 100,000 people in 17 boroughs, meaning London now has the highest infection rate in the country. London mayor Sadiq Khan called the latest figures “deeply concerning” and urged prime minister Boris Johnson to consider immediate action to support businesses forced to shutter under tier three. Leaders of hospitality businesses in London vented their anger over the prospect of moving into tier three. Des Gunewardena, chief executive and co-founder of restaurant group 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 feels like an almost gratuitous kick in the teeth to London restaurants. 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.” Stuart Procter, chief operating officer of The Stafford Collection, the luxury hospitality group that includes the Stafford London and Northcote, added: “This constant ‘open close, open close’ is exhausting. It takes so much time, energy, and work to get our restaurants, bars and hotels trading again so to be threatened with another closure mere weeks after reopening is crushing. The only glimmer of hope for 2020 was a bit of Christmas trading in London so for that to be removed is like the rug being pulled from under your feet again.” Meanwhile, Cokey Sulkin, co-founder of US comfort food and cocktails brand Dirty Bones, explained “moving London into tier three will be a hammer blow to all hospitality businesses in the capital”. He described it as being a lockdown in all but name as well as “more valuable time eaten up dealing with suppliers and landlords for further concessions when we should be looking forward”. Charlie Gilkes, founder of Inception Group, tweeted: “24 hours’ notice to close after only 13 days, having spent a fortune getting reopened for Xmas trading after lockdown. Devastating.”
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