Pubs, restaurants and business leaders in London say 10pm curfew is ‘pointless’ in Tier 2 lockdown and demand Covid rule is scrapped to offer ‘glimmer of light’ to hospitality industry
- Hospitality sector alliance said curfew is no longer needed now it is illegal for Londoners to socialise indoors with people outside their household
- Jeremy King, chief exec of restaurant group Corbin & King, said: ‘The curfew, however well intentioned, was always a ridiculous initiative’
- Restaurateurs Chris and Jeff Galvin: ‘The curfew is now more pointless than ever’
- Pubs, bars and eateries could go bust this winter as first weekend of London’s tier two lockdown saw up to 75% of tables cancelled
Restaurateurs and business leaders have called on Boris Johnson to scrap the 10pm curfew in London, calling it a ‘ridiculous’ and ‘pointless’ initiative.
The alliance from the hospitality sector said the curfew was no longer needed now that it is illegal for Londoners to socialise indoors with people outside their household.
Their plea comes as pubs, bars and eateries could go bust this winter after a horrendous first weekend of the capital’s Tier 2 lockdown that saw up to 75% of tables cancelled.
The business leaders contend that there is no point in having an early closing time if only one household is allowed at a table in the first place.
Jeremy King, chief executive of restaurant group Corbin & King, which runs venues such as The Wolseley and Brasserie Zedel, was among those to speak out today.
‘The curfew, however well intentioned, was always a ridiculous initiative. Removing it would be a glimmer of light for hospitality – but more importantly, if the Government was to admit they have made a mistake by implementing it, it could be a massive turning point,’ he told the Evening Standard.
Restaurateurs and business leaders have called on Boris Johnson to scrap the 10pm curfew in London, calling it a ‘ridiculous’ initiative. The alliance from the hospitality sector said the curfew was no longer needed now that it is illegal for Londoners to socialise indoors with people outside their household. (Above, diners at Westfield, in Stratford, east London)
Jeremy King, chief executive of restaurant group Corbin & King, which runs venues such as The Wolseley (above) and Brasserie Zedel, was among those to speak out today. ‘The curfew, however well intentioned, was always a ridiculous initiative,’ he said
The business leaders’ plea comes as pubs, bars and eateries could go bust this winter after a horrendous first weekend of the capital’s Tier 2 lockdown that saw up to 75% of tables cancelled. (Above, Covent Garden, after the city was put into lockdown at the weekend)
Empty tables in a pub in London’s Soho on October 18 as people opt to sit outside instead
Chris and Jeff Galvin, co-founders of the Galvin restaurants, added: ‘The curfew is now more pointless than ever.
‘If our customers must all be from the same household or support bubble, what difference does it make whether they are sat in a restaurant at 10.30pm enjoying a glass of wine, or sat on the settee watching television?’
Adding to the chorus of disapproval was John Dickie, director of policy at business campaigning group London First.
Jeremy King (above) said: ‘Removing [the curfew] would be a glimmer of light for hospitality – but more importantly, if the Government was to admit they have made a mistake by implementing it, it could be a massive turning point’
‘Now that London has entered Tier 2, there is no longer any reason to persist with the 10pm curfew,’ he told the Standard.
Under the Tier 2 restrictions, pubs and restaurants can only serve single-household customers, providing they abide by the rule of six and close their doors at 10pm.
However, there have been claims that multiple households flouted the ban on not mixing indoors at pubs over the weekend despite the strict new measures since Saturday.
Witnesses claimed they saw people hugging and saying ‘haven’t seen you in ages’, while some businesses admitted they do not know how to enforce the latest rules.
Des Gunewardena, chief executive of the D&D London restaurant group, said Saturday was a ‘disaster’ for its West End restaurants Quaglino’s and 100 Wardour Street – with both seeing a 50% drop in custom compared with the previous Saturday.
Greg Marchand, chef-patron of Frenchie Covent Garden, said it did 430 covers last week, 215 forecast for this week and only 71 expected next week.
And Rob Pitcher, the boss of Revolution Bars, said sales in its London bars on Saturday dropped 60% compared to the week before.
Also joining the call for the curfew to be scrapped is Sadiq Khan.
The Mayor of London performed an abrupt U-turn earlier this week to demand an ‘immediate’ end to the 10pm pub curfew, having previously supported it to control coronavirus.
Hundreds of hospitality workers took part in a demonstration in Parliament Square on Monday against the lack of scientific evidence behind the new coronavirus restrictions imposed by the Government
Also joining the call for the curfew to be scrapped is Sadiq Khan. The Mayor of London performed an abrupt U-turn earlier this week to demand an ‘immediate’ end to the 10pm pub curfew, having previously supported it to control coronavirus
Khan, who led the political push for harsher lockdown measures to be introduced in the capital, has now decided it needs to be removed to aid the recovery of the restaurant trade.
Shopper numbers at UK retail outlets fall for a fourth straight week
A market research firm said shopper numbers at British retail destinations fell for a fourth straight week following tougher government measures.
Springboard said total shopper numbers, or footfall, fell 3.1% in the week to October 17 versus the previous week.
The figure was down 2.8% on high streets, down 3% in retail parks and down 3.5% in shopping centres.
Springboard director Diane Wehrle said: ‘The additional Covid tiered restrictions had an immediate impact on footfall in retail destinations last week with an across the board week on week decline.’
Footfall in the North of England and Yorkshire region fell 5%, reflecting the tighter restrictions there. The year-on-year decline in UK shopper numbers worsened to 32.3%.
The curfew has previously been criticised across party lines for its financial impact on businesses as well as causing crowds to build in streets and on public transport when customers leave premises.
But Mr Khan has previously been ambivalent about it, telling Sky News on September 22: ‘The time does not matter. There is nothing magic about 10pm or 11pm.
‘The issue is the amount of hours people are spending together where they could be asymptomatic and the virus passes on.’
And on Sunday he joined Labour’s national call for a total ‘circuit break’ lockdown for the whole of England – which would include pubs closing completely.
However, in a statement on Monday, he said: ‘I have said for a while that the current curfew rule needs to be rapidly reviewed.
‘We saw the worrying consequences of increased social mixing on the streets and on public transport in the capital around 10pm immediately after its introduction.
‘Now London and other parts of the country have moved into Tier 2 and higher restrictions, which prohibit household mixing, the current 10pm curfew policy makes even less sense and should be scrapped.
‘Immediately scrapping the 10pm curfew would allow more sittings of single households in restaurants throughout the evening, helping with cashflow at a time when venues need all the support they can get.’
He added: ‘The Government still haven’t got a grip on this virus and provided a functioning test and trace system.
‘Ministers must give businesses the support they need to survive while restrictions remain in place.
‘This includes access to a proper job retention scheme in line with the 80 per cent furlough scheme in place at the start of the pandemic.’
Meanwhile, Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, has warned that the lack of sector-specific funding offered to the country’s hospitality industry could be ‘catastrophic’.
Last week Health Secretary Matt Hancock conceded in the Commons the curfew was a ‘matter of policy choice’ in order to keep schools and workplaces open, rather than something driven by scientific advice.
He claimed there is ‘direct and approximate evidence’ for the positive impact of the limits on pubs and restaurants, citing a fall in alcohol-related A&E admissions late at night.
Working lunches for up to 30 people WILL still be allowed in Tier 2 despite minister’s claim loophole ‘is being closed’
Working lunches for up to 30 people will still be allowed in Tier 2 areas despite Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick’s claim the loophole ‘is being closed’.
Jenrick caused confusion this morning by claiming that working lunches would have to take place outside and that indoor meetings were a ‘loophole that is being closed’.
However, Government sources were quick to say that Jenrick ‘misspoke’ in making those claims, according to The Telegraph.
Top restaurants have started sending emails to customers asking them to book ‘business lunches’ after Downing Street admitted to a lockdown loophole.
The Wolseley has written to its patrons to confirm that business meetings at their restaurant are allowed
Corbin & King, which owns restaurants including The Wolseley, Brasserie Zedel and The Delaunay, sent an email confirming that working lunches were ‘within the rules’ even though being in Tier 2 means that people from different households can’t mix indoors.
The Wolseley tweeted to say: ‘We are all finding the Tier Two rules bewildering and whilst social occasions need to be from a single household, BUSINESS MEETINGS ARE ACCEPTABLE within the rules.
‘So, we wanted to let you know, we are proceeding with business bookings from different households.’
Ministers have pleaded with the public to only use the loophole if absolutely necessary.
A spokesman said: ‘There is a specific exemption which says that people from different households can gather in indoor settings that are open for work purposes.’
They stressed this is meant for freelancers and not a green light for pub meals with friends under the guise of boozy working lunches.
But some restaurants are hoping the loophole could pave the way for a surge in working lunches among the 28million people living under tighter Tier 2 restrictions.
The loophole caused a stir on Twitter yesterday, with some users planning a ‘working lunch of eight pints at 9pm’ and a ‘9am meeting’ in a Wetherspoon pub.
A No10 spokesman confirmed that while current rules advise people to limit their social contact and work from home ‘where possible’, people are permitted to meet indoors for work purposes ‘in high or very high areas’.
Restaurateurs and landlords are now desperately calling for much-needed clarity over the loophole, which they hope could revive their business.
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