Curfew Changed To 11pm And New Tiered System Imposed Which Will “Kill Christmas” Says Sector

The hospitality and on trade sector will face a raft of new restrictions including an 11 PM curfew and a change to localised tiered systems when the current lockdown ends on December 2, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced.

The current 10 PM curfew is to be replaced with an 11 PM curfew and pubs/bars will be required to call last orders at 10 PM giving customers an hour to drink up and leave. In addition to the curfew change Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new tiered system

  • Tier 1 will see the hospitality and on trade sector open till 11 PM however people under the Tier 1 system will be required to work from home whenever possible.
  • Under the second-tier pubs bars and restaurants can only serve alcohol if they serve a substantial meal.
  • Under the third tier pubs bars and restaurants can serve takeaway only

Addressing Parliament the Prime Minister said he was “very sorry for the unavoidable hardship this will cause” businesses, adding that “without sensible precautions we would risk the virus escalating” and the winter plan is “designed to carry us safely to spring”.

The tier restrictions will also be uniform across England, and additional measures will not be negotiated with local authorities as they were before.

The Prime Minister also said that more regions than before are expected to fall into the higher tiers. The government is expected to announce which areas will fall into which tier on Thursday and is working with the devolved administrations for a unified plan for Christmas, which it is also expected to announce this week.

The British Beer & Pub Association has today responded to the Prime Minister’s announcement on new tighter tier restrictions to come into place when the lockdown ends on December 2nd.

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said:  “Our sector has been singled out by these new measures which unfairly target pubs. The additional restrictions will destroy our sector if they go ahead as proposed. Whilst the review of curfew is overdue the relaxation of the 10pm curfew is meaningless if most pubs are rendered unviable or forced to close under tiers two and three.

“We’re calling on the Government to provide the evidence behind its decision to single out pubs. The publicly available evidence from Public Health England (1) shows that hospitality has been linked to just 1% of total infections. Our own survey of members with 22,500 venues across the UK found just 1% had been linked by NHS test and trace to a COVID incidence (2). A recent study by the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking even found that people find pubs amongst the easiest places to adhere to social distancing, more so than many other venues and socialising within other people’s homes (3).

“We are genuinely concerned the decision announced today has not taken this evidence into account. Pubs are COVID-secure, following all Government guidelines, serving to tables, enforcing social distancing and working hand in hand with NHS test and trace.

“If these tighter tier restrictions are forced upon us, far more Government financial support will be needed to avoid the resulting carnage. In tier two alone, the new restrictions will mean 90% of pubs will be unviable and will only be able to operate at a loss. In tier three, no pub is viable if restricted to takeaway only. This will also mean our brewing businesses will be hugely damaged too.

“The current grants are not even enough to cover fixed costs in a pub, and now must compensate for the revenue pubs and breweries will lose as a result of these additional restrictions. Without an enhanced grants package of support for pubs and brewers thousands of businesses are doomed to fail, destroying thousands of livelihoods and communities across the UK.

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “The Government is making a point of saying that these measures are needed in order to save Christmas. In reality, they are killing Christmas and beyond for many businesses and their customers who look forward to, and rely on, venues being open at this time of year. Sadly, for many staff, it will be a Christmas out of work.

“If there needs to be a tightening of restrictions, it should not come at the expense of hospitality. Only a small fraction of cases have been linked to our businesses and venues have shown that they can provide safe environments for customers and staff. If the Government pursues this course of action, it is going to mean permanent closures and job losses.

“Tier 3 will be lockdown in everything but name for hospitality and will leave businesses almost no room for manoeuvre. With household mixing still not permitted, businesses in tier 2 are going to find revenues severely slashed at a crucial time for the sector.

“Immediate financial support must now be rapidly increased as many businesses will be forced to close, in some cases permanently. Our member survey has shown the current Tier 3 restrictions, which will now effectively apply to Tier 2 areas, will see 94% of hospitality businesses operate at a loss or simply become unviable. The new Tier 3 simply means no chance of trading out of this. Government must also confirm that the increased State Aid cap of €3m will be applied – as this is preventing the distribution of grants to tens of thousands of businesses employing nearly a million people.

“Adding a degree of flexibility to the mandatory curfew will help with dispersal of customers, but it doesn’t change the fact that businesses won’t be able generate revenues after 10pm.

“The big stumbling block for businesses is the lack of household mixing. This will be a huge hit that will be felt all the harder because it is almost Christmas. The Government could throw the sector a lifeline if it adopted the Welsh model of limited household mixing to let people socialise safely without jeopardising public or business health.”

The Government’s damning roadmap out of the lockdown for hospitality (in England) follows fresh Europe-wide research from YouGov suggesting that the UK population feels most able to adhere to social distancing and other COVID-safety requirements in hospitality venues versus other out-of-home settings. The survey of 2,269 adults in the UK found that 14% of the public found it difficult to distance in restaurants, bars and cafes versus 51% in retail settings, 29% in shopping centres and 27% on public transport.

It also found that the vast majority of people’s priority safeguards were being matched in hospitality, with most members of the public prioritising spread-out seating, hand sanitiser, and other good hygiene practises, plus servers and guests wearing face masks.

Steven Alton, BII CEO said: “Pubs have been placed in an impossible situation, where the mixing of households indoors will again only be possible in Tier 1 areas, and those in Tier 2 will now have to provide a substantial meal to allow them to serve alcohol. The Rule of Six will only apply outdoors as before in Tier 2 and Tier 3 businesses cannot open at all, except to provide a takeaway service.

“With such a reduction in footfall for our venues, profitability will be wiped out in the month where so many pubs rely on higher incomes to see them through the winter and into the spring. These tougher restrictions mean that despite furlough continuing until March, thousands of businesses will be left unable to survive until they are allowed to reopen and trade more freely or provided with realistic levels of business support.

“In order for our sector to survive, we are demanding that Government compensates our unfairly targeted pubs for the loss of revenue that they will endure over this period. The alternative is that our vibrant and viable sector will simply not be around in 2021. Jobs will be lost in their millions, businesses will collapse and the essential community value that they deliver will be destroyed.

“The grants that have been awarded barely scratch the surface of the running costs of our venues, closed or open. There is now an urgent need for action to save the hospitality industry, and the package of measures must be at levels seen in other countries in Europe and beyond.

“Without immediate intervention, we anticipate infection rates rising further as people gather in homes and other settings, instead of our highly regulated and controlled hospitality environments.

“As we anticipate more of the country being taken into these higher tiers, the results of our most recent survey, which showed 75% of businesses becoming unviable by the middle of next year, will now be a huge under estimation.

Our call to Government is clear and concise. Act now to save livelihoods and the heritage of our country’s pubs, or lose them forever.”

“We are asking the Government to reconsider their approach and allow pubs to play their vital role in local communities over the festive period, bringing people together safely and providing some much-needed festive cheer this Christmas, and essential trade to keep our locals alive.”