Londoners have sat down to enjoy their last pub pints before Christmas – as industry experts warn more than 160,000 jobs in the hospitality industry have been put at risk by the move into Tier 3.
London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will be put under Tier Three curbs from tonight.
The announcement was made yesterday by Health Secretary Matt Hancock who also revealed a new strain of the virus has begun spreading across the UK.
But hospitality bosses slammed the ‘catastrophic’ decision to move London and parts of the home counties into the higher band of restrictions.
Under the new Tier 3 rules, only businesses offering takeaway and delivery will be allowed to remain open.
Restrictions are supposed to be eased to allow up to three households to meet for five days over the festive period, but pubs in Tier 3 will have to remain closed even then.
Pubs in Tier 2 areas will be able to open under the band’s restrictions over the Christmas period.
But as households are only allowed to mix with people from other bubbles in the home over the five day period, it will make reopening unviable for many pubs, bars and restaurants.
Tonight’s move into Tier 3 will wipe off £2.7billion from the hospitality industry in London as pubs, bars and restaurants are forced to close in the last two weeks of the year – during what is typically their busiest trading time.
One London restaurant owner revealed the move into Tier 3 had already cost him £42,000 in lost bookings, in addition to a week’s worth of wasted stock.
While other pub owners will have to pour any beer left undrunk down the drain if it is not sold by the end of today.
Industry insiders called for an urgent support package for the hospitality sector to help businesses survive into the New Year.
It came as Londoners started drinking early at pubs across the capital before the city is plunged into Tier 3 tonight.
Some businesses in the city opened their doors from 9am this morning and were offering pints for as little as 99p in an attempt to get rid of stock with only hours to go before the shutdown.
One Wetherspoons pub in south West London welcomed drinkers from 10.30am onwards and was busy all morning serving drinkers.
Londoners started drinking early at pubs across the capital today before the city is plunged into Tier 3 tonight. Pictured: Drinkers at a Wetherspoons pub in south west London around 10.30am today
Some businesses were offering cut price drinks as they attempt to get rid of their stock with only hours to go before the shutdown
People enjoyed a drink outside a pub in the West End of London last night after the announcement the capital and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will face Tier 3 restrictions from Wednesday
People last night enjoyed one of their final chances to go out for dinner in the capital before tougher restrictions come into force. Pictured: People outside a restaurant in the West End of London last night
News of higher restrictions in London and parts of the home counties comes as:
- Britain yesterday recorded a further 20,263 coronavirus cases, in a rise of more than a third on last Monday’s total;
- Monday’s death toll stood at 232 people – in a 22.8 per cent spike on the 189 deaths seen on the same day last week;
- Health Secretary Matt Hancock has urged Britons to consider pre-isolating now before meeting vulnerable elderly relatives at Christmas to lessen the risk;
- The number of coronavirus cases in England dropped by a quarter during the second national lockdown, the Government-backed REACT-1 study has revealed.
Campaign for Pubs spokesperson, Greg Mulholland, slammed the government for announcing the decision less than two weeks before Christmas.
He said the government’s announcement is a ‘shocking way to treat publicans and their families’ and warned it would force many businesses to the brink.
The campaign manager and former MP said: ‘It’s devastating news for pubs and publicans in London and the home counties.
‘To move into Tier 3 just a few weeks after opening again to get some restricted trade, and then this just a few weeks before Christmas.
The whole of London will be plunged into Tier 3 lockdown tonight, leading drinkers in the capital to go out and get an early pint before the hospitality sector is forced to close under the new restrictions. Pictured: Wetherspoons pub in south west London
Unused stock will have to be poured away if it is not used, leading businesses to offer cut price pints. Pictured: Wetherspoons pub in south west London
Drinkere were seen at this Wetherspoons pub in south west London from around 10.30am
The pub is offering drinkers pints of ale for as little as 99p in a bid to sell unused stock
Industry insiders called the minimal notice before the shutdown ‘catastropic’ and a ‘shocking way to treat publicans’
They stressed that the last minute notice would have a ‘devastating’ effect on businesses. Pictured: Wetherspoons pub in south west London
East London restaurant owner loses £42,000 in bookings as capital is plunged into Tier 3
Andy Jones, 40, owns Jones & Sons restaurant in Dalston, east London
A London restaurant owner has revealed he has lost more than £42,000 in bookings since the announcement that the capital would move into Tier 3.
Andy Jones, 40, owns Jones & Sons restaurant in Dalston, east London, and will be forced to close when the capital moved into the higher band of restrictions tonight.
He said he will lose hundreds of bookings and his remaining food stock will go to waste.
‘This week, we had about £42,000 worth of bookings in the system already,’ he said.
‘My biggest gripe is that busy restaurants plan a week ahead. We’ve got a week’s worth of food pretty much either prepped ready to go, bought in already – which you can’t send back – or on order.
‘Think about the wasted food.
‘It’s unacceptable to give the hospitality industry 24 hours’ notice,’ he added.
‘We’re very worried about the impact this will not only have on livelihoods but also mental health.
‘This is a shocking way to be treating publicans and their families particularly in the run up to Christmas.
‘The goverment keeps changing its mind and changing the rules and it’s having a devastating effect which will threaten the future of many of our beloved pubs in these higher tier areas up and down the country.’
The former MP for Leeds North West also highlighted how the short notice will leave many business owner high and dry with unusued stock – yet another addition to their financial woes.
Former MP and campaign manager for the Campaign for Pubs, Greg Mulholland, said the government’s announcement is a ‘shocking way to treat publicans and their families’ and warned it would force many businesses to the brink
‘Pubs will have stock on the basis that they were allowed to be open at this crucial trading time of the year, and now forced to close in a matter of days and dispose of that with no compensation whatsoever from the government,’ he said. ‘We need an urgent package of support.’
Publicans will have to dispose of unused stock if it is not sold, leading to concerns there will be a repeat of scenes witnessed at the start of the second national lockdown.
An estimated 70million pints of beer were poured down the drain when the country went into lockdown on November 5.
A spokesperson for Wetherspoons, who is selling off their surplus stock for as little as 99p in some of their pubs today, said it was ‘disappointing’ but necessary to dispose of unused stock.
Calling the hospitality sector a ‘scapegoat’ during the coronavirus crisis, JDW spokesman Eddie Gershon told Mail Online: ‘With those pubs moving into Tier 3 in London, Hertforshire and Essex if everything is not sold by the end of play today will have to be thrown away.
‘You can’t keep it, so might as well try and offload it. It is good beer, and some of those beers would usually be round £6 a pint in London.
‘Our prices at £2.20 a pint are very good value, so we hope people enjoy it at low prices and from our point of view we need to get rid of it.
‘The hospitality sector seems to be the scapegoat, but when things happen we just have to deal with it. ‘
Industry insiders warned the closure of pubs would wipe billions of pounds off the UK economy and put thousands of jobs at risk.
According to the British Beer and Pub Association there are 3,680 pubs and 56,000 sector jobs in the capital alone.
Kate Nicholls, the head of UK Hospitality warned the closure would ‘change the face of the capital for years to come’.
She said: ‘The effect this shutdown will have on businesses is absolutely catastrophic.
‘The impact of this is both immediate and dire for those businesses forced to close and the effect will be also long term on wider businesses.
‘For those businesses directly affected it will wipe off £2.7bn from the London economy in the last two weeks of December.
‘It’s such a disproportionate effect because it’s the two busiest trading weeks in the year lost in the largest most valuable hospitality economy in the world.
Industry insiders warned only 1 in 5 of London’s hospitality venues had been able to reopen effectively since December 2 and the move into Tier 3 means many more may never reopen
People cannot socialise indoors under the new restrictions, and restaurants like this one in London’s Soho, pictured last night, will have to close
Jones & Sons restaurant in east London will have to close under the new restrictions. The owner says it has already cost him £42,000 in lost bookings. Pictured: Undated image of the restaurant
Head of UK Hospitality, Kate Nicholls, called for an urgent package of support for the hospitality businesses forced to close as a result of the Tier 3 shutdown
‘It’s also put 160,000 jobs directly at risk just before Christmas.’
Ms Nicholls said only 1 in 5 of London’s hospitality venues had been able to reopen effectively since December 2 and the move into Tier 3 means many more may never reopen.
Industry experts also criticised the number of shoppers seen crowded into the streets in the run up to Christmas.
Mr Mulholland said the hospitality industry was bearing the brunt of the restrictions, despite being heavily regulated – unlike High Streets and shopping centres.
He said: ‘There’s huge anger amongst publicans and their families at the fact the government is allowing – and indeed encouraging – huge crowds of people to congregate to go shopping in a totally unregulated environment while scapegoating pubs and hospitality, forcing them to close and giving them derisory support in response.’
Social media users reacted to the news that stock would go to waste as businesses were moved into Tier 3 at short notice
A rise in infections means London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will be put under Tier Three curbs from tonight
He added: ‘We must have adequate support, the government cannot continue to treat pubs the way that they have without properly supporting them.
‘The evidence based decision they’re taking is extremely questionable, indeed threadbare.
‘But nonetheless, now that they have taken this devastating decision, they need to come up with a proper package of support for all Tier 3 areas.
‘It leaves people at the end of a very difficult year with great worries about the future of their business and their ongoing livelihoods.’
Several people were concerned about the short notice for the hospitality industry which would lead of businesses with surplus stock
This social media user said he knew ofbusinesses that have also spent money on products that will allow their companys to remain open – this too will go to waste
This Twitter user said the situation was ‘not a fair way to treat people’
What are the Tier 3 rules?
- Indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas, theatres and bowling alleys must close;
- Pubs, restaurants and cafes must close except for takeaway;
- Shops and hairdressers and salons will be allowed to remain open;
- Groups of six will be allowed to meet outdoors only;
- Crowds at live events will be banned;
- People should avoid travelling out of, or into, Tier 3 areas unless it is unavoidable;
- People from separate households cannot meet indoors and the rule of six applies outside.
Ms Nicholls joined calls for a comprehensive support package to support the businesses facing difficulty in the face of closure.
She called for the government to extend the business rates holiday into 2022, and extend the lower rate of VAT for the tourism and hospitality services for the whole of next year.
‘It’s going to be a domino effect unless we can get additional support to these businesses,’ she said.
‘That support will allow these businesses to make decisions about investment for next year in confidence, will avoid unnecessary job losses over the Christmas period and will allow support to be maintained throughout the recovery.’
Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, called it ‘another nail in the coffin’ for pubs.
She said: ‘It could completely destroy many pubs in London and parts of Hertfordshire and Essex [and] it is cruel on hardworking publicans doing all they can to support their communities and invest in implementing all the required safety measures.
She added: ‘It is not fair that pubs in London and other parts of England receive four times less financial support than pubs in Wales. Particularly as pubs in London are the most expensive to run.
‘Support also needs to be made available to brewers and the wider supply chain businesses also seeing a major trade channel closed overnight.’