Restaurants remain open in 'very high alert' lockdown

Restaurants remain open in 'very high alert' lockdown

Restaurants can currently remain open in areas moved into the highest tier of the government’s local lockdown measures, confirmed by the prime minister this afternoon (12 October) in a statement made to the House of Commons.

As it currently stands, pubs and bars in the city of Liverpool and Merseyside areas will be told to close this Wednesday, as the city moves into ‘very high alert’ lockdown measures, though restaurants can remain operational.

The new structure operates on a three-tier basis: the ‘medium alert’ level on tier one, which will cover most of the country and consists of current national measures, including the rule of six and the 10pm curfew for hospitality venues; the ‘high alert’ level on tier two aims to reduce household transmission by preventing all indoor mixing between different households or support bubbles – the majority of areas already subject to local restrictions will automatically move into the high alert level; and areas in the ‘very high’ level at tier three will see social mixing prohibited indoors and in private gardens.

Johnson also confirmed that some hospitality businesses – pubs and bars – will also be closed in ‘very high’ alert areas, as seen in Liverpool, and he hinted that further restrictions across the industry could be imposed.

“I take no pleasure whatsoever in imposing restrictions on these businesses, many of which have gone to great lengths to reopen as safely as possible, nor do I want to stop people enjoying themselves, but we must act to save lives,” Johnson said in his statement.

“In each area, we will work with local government leaders on the additional measures which should be taken.

“This could lead to further restrictions on the hospitality, leisure, entertainment or personal care sectors.”

The prime minister reiterated that the government will cover two-thirds of the wages for employees of businesses forced to close by virus restrictions.

Industry reaction

“The impact of all of these restrictions is huge and we are quickly reaching the point of no return for many businesses,” says UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls.

“For those businesses in tier three areas, forced to close their doors again, things look bleak but the support announced last week for closed businesses will hopefully give them the breathing room they need to survive another lockdown.

“There is currently a concerning lack of support on offer for hospitality businesses in tier two, and to a lesser extent tier one, despite their facing restrictions that is seeing trade down by between 40% to 60%.

“They will have the worst of both worlds, operating under significant restrictions without the financial support on offer to tier three businesses. Without enhanced grant support and enhanced government contributions to the Job Support Scheme, many are going to fall by the wayside.

“It is time for the government, at the very least, to rethink the mandatory 10pm curfew in those areas where Covid-19 rates are low.

“It was imposed without credible evidence that hospitality is the source of increases in transmission, while some evidence points the other way.

“To leave hospitality out to dry would be a grave and risky move and would cost many people their jobs.”