New government restrictions requiring pubs and restaurants to close at 10pm will be “the final nail in the coffin” for many businesses, pub owners have warned.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and First Minister Mark Drakeford announced the latest measures for England and Wales in national broadcasts last night, saying they were necessary to avoid a second, full, national lockdown while balancing the economy’s ability to recover.
Speaking to the BBC, Oliver Vaulkhard, who runs a number of venues across the north east of England, said: “People have this vision, it’s just a few blokes standing at a bar at 10.30. What does it matter?
“10 o’clock doesn’t sound dreadful, but it does halve your revenue.”
He added: “You can sit people between 7 and 7.30pm and when they’re gone they’re gone. You can’t get that 9 o’clock sitting.”
Public Health England and Public Health Wales have identified pubs as a likely cause for the spread of a number of cases in different areas of the country. Areas already on local lockdown have seen pubs forced to close at 11pm. Earlier in the day, cabinet office minister, Michael Gove, said there had been a “beneficial effect” in areas where earlier closing times had been enforced.
Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is expected to announce similar restrictions later today.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UK Hospitality, said: “These restrictions are a further, potentially fatal, blow for many hospitality businesses.
“Most disheartening is the announcement that they are potentially in place for six months. Lots of businesses will not survive this and we are going to see more and more people lose their jobs.”