Industry leaders have accused the government of imposing “a lockdown in all but name” on the hospitality sector following the transition to a new localised tier system for managing the spread of covid-19.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said measures which will see businesses in tier 3 allowed to provide takeaway or delivery only, and those in tier 2 restricted to serving alcohol with substantial meals would lead to permanent closures and job losses.
New local restrictions will come into effect when the second national lockdown ends on December 2nd. They are widely seen to favour sectors such as retail – where all shops will be allowed to fully reopen – at the expense of hospitality businesses who face significant trading restrictions despite the 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants being extended until 11pm.
Nor will people be allowed to meet in pubs, restaurants or entertainment venues in the temporary Christmas bubbles that will allow three households to mix between December 23rd and 27th.
“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,” said Nicholls who called for an immediate increase in the financial support available to businesses.
The Office for Budget Responsibility this week forecast that GDP would slump 11.3% this year, the biggest contraction in 300 years. The UK economy is not expected to return to its pre-pandemic size until the fourth quarter of 2022.
This week also saw HMRC publish data showing that almost 85,000 foodservice premises registered to take part in the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme over the summer, claiming a total of £522m in reimbursements for discounts given to diners.
It has also been revealed that HMRC has written to certain businesses asking them to verify their claims via the scheme as part of its compliance checks.