Pub bosses and punters grappling with new coronavirus rules which make masks compulsory have warned Boris Johnson that enforcement will be tough.
The Prime Minister today tightened restrictions on the hospitality sector for six months by imposing a 10pm curfew across England from Thursday and limiting business solely to table service.
Speaking in the House of Commons, he also said face coverings will be mandatory for all staff and customers unless they are seated.
The raft of measures was met with an instant backlash from the pub trade which said the ‘devastating’ curbs would torpedo sales and sink some firms.
Greg Mulholland, campaign director for the Campaign for Pubs, said: ‘It seems questionable asking people to wear face masks yet not at the table, and there is a fear that the need to have a mask will put people off going to pubs which could see levels of trade drop even further.’
Calling on the Government to provide financial support for pubs, he added: ‘The confirmation of a curfew of 10pm and other restrictions for up to six months is devastating for many pubs and publicans.
‘As it is, most pubs were only getting back on their feet and many were not yet trading profitably and this latest news will make it impossible for some publicans to carry on.’
Jack Laing, 30, who manages a pub in Notting Hill, told MailOnline: ‘The movement of people around the pub with a facemask will be difficult to police.’
Stressing that he will enforce the rules, he added: ‘It’s the same as track and trace. If they don’t want to do it this isn’t the place for them. Obviously it will be a challenge but we have to do it if we’re going to be open.’
Public Health England data reveals that of the 729 outbreaks in the week to September 13, only five per cent occurred in food outlets such as restaurants and pubs
Drinkers at a bar in Covent Garden, London, this afternoon as pubs and restaurants face tighter restrictions on their service
The PM has imposed a 10pm curfew on all restaurants, bars and pubs across England from Thursday with the hospitality sector also being restricted to table service only
The Prime Minister this afternoon announced a tightening of restrictions for pubs and restaurants which will last six months
Restrictions ‘will prompt a boom in illegal house parties’, industry warns
Hospitality bosses warned that a 10pm curfew introduced today for pubs would exacerbate lockdown ‘bad behaviour’ with no track and trace at house parties.
The curfew, which will begin on Friday in Scotland and from Thursday in England, was introduced in a bid to stop coronavirus from spreading.
But hospitality bosses north of the border warned it would be a death knell for many businesses – and would just exacerbate house parties with no regulation.
Stephen Montgomery, spokesman for the Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG), said: ‘We are now staring into an abyss.
‘There is a real concern that the hospitality industry is being singled out for restrictions with very little evidence to support a link to coronavirus transmission.
‘We are already seeing an explosion of house parties and closing bars and restaurants at 10pm will only increase this.’
Speaking to MPs, the PM said: ‘From Thursday all pubs, bars and restaurants must operate table-service only, Mr Speaker, except for takeaways.
‘Together with all hospitality venues, they must close at 10pm.
‘To help the police to enforce this rule, I am afraid that means alas closing, and not just calling for last orders. Simplicity is paramount.
‘The same will apply to takeaways – though deliveries can continue thereafter.
‘I am sorry this will hurt many businesses just getting back on their feet, but we must act to stop the virus from being transmitted in bars and restaurants.’
But punters are already picking apart the flaws in the curfew and said it will be tough to enforce.
Max Thestlethwaite, 32, from Shepherd’s Bush, was enjoying a drink with his girlfriend Christina Diaz, 43, outside the Builder’s Arms in Kensington in the wake of the PM’s announcement.
He told MailOnline: ‘We are avid pub-goers, but my view around the new rules is what difference is it going to make if people are out by 10pm or 11pm?
‘Imagine Friday night in Soho at 9.30. How’s that going to be different to 10.30? And trying to clear the pub at 9.30 when everyone’s drinking…’
Pub manager Mr Laing said: ‘It puts more pressure on the business. It feels like we’re taking steps back but we will overcome it.
‘When people have had a few drinks it will become a problem to police.’
Mr Thestlethwaite added that compulsory facemask-wearing will be impossible to enforce for pub staff.
He said: ‘I just don’t think it’s really enforceable… They’ll have to spend half the time enforcing the rules.’
But Michela Rosi, assistant manager at the Churchill Arms in Notting Hill, said people will have to get to grips with the system quickly as she will be clamping down.
She told MailOnline: ‘It’s just something that people need to get used to, they’ll just have to take the mask off when they get the drinks, and put them back on if they go go the toilet or something.’
The Churchill Arms often sees people standing outside on the street drinking, but the new rules restricting business to table service will ban this and will ‘100 per cent’ be a blow for the pub.
Fondly recalling the days when punters came to the bar, supervisor Roxi Aulsberry said: ‘The main part of this job I love is the banter, but they just have to have it at the tables. There’s pros and cons with everything, we just have to take the good out of it.’
Announcing the facemask rule in the Commons, the PM said: ‘We will extend the requirement to wear face coverings to include staff in retail, all users of taxis and private hire vehicles, and staff and customers in indoor hospitality, except when seated at a table to eat or drink.’
The measures are being brought in to wrestle down the spread of the virus after the government’s top two scientists, professors Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance, warned of 50,000 daily cases by mid-October.
Jack Laing, 30, who manages a pub in Notting Hill, told MailOnline: ‘The movement of people around the pub with a face mask will be difficult to police’
Michela Rosi, assistant manager at the Churchill Arms in Notting Hill, said people will have to get to grips with the system quickly as she will be clamping down
Max Thestlethwaite, 32, from Shepherd’s Bush, was enjoying a drink with his girlfriend Christina Diaz, 43, outside the Builder’s Arms in Kensington in the wake of the PM’s announcement. He told MailOnline: ‘We are avid pub-goers, but my view around the new rules is what difference is it going to make if people are out by 10pm or 11pm?’
Exasperated hospitality bosses are fuming that they are bearing the brunt of Mr Johnson’s coronavirus crackdown when Government figures show a comparably low spread of the disease in food and drink outlets.
Public Health England data reveals that of the 729 outbreaks in the week to September 13, only five per cent occurred in food outlets such as restaurants and pubs – 45 per cent were in care homes, 21 per cent in schools and 18 per cent in places of work.
Wetherspoons founder Tim Martin said: ‘The curfew doesn’t even stand up to five minutes consideration by an intelligent person because if you look at the stats… there are relatively few transfers of infections in pubs.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UK Hospitality, urged the Government to heed its own statistics because the curfew could take a sledgehammer to the industry which is already ‘on its knees’.
She said this morning: ‘People will think it’s not that significant, but it really will have a big economic impact on jobs, not just on pubs, but also for cafes and restaurants.’
Martin Wolstencroft, head of Arch Inspirations, which runs 17 bars and restaurants in Leeds, Manchester, York and Newcastle, said the curfew will not make it viable to open some of his venues.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘The 10pm curfew will be absolutely devastating for our business. It’s just such disastrous news. We’ve worked so hard after lockdown to build up our business after 12 weeks, to build up the confidence of our teams and our customers.
‘We’ve done really well in Eat Out to Help Out to get ourselves moving again. So to hear this news this week, it’s so frustrating. We may as well not open some of our bars.
‘After 10pm is really when we start making money because that’s when we get busier and it won’t cover our costs during the day.
‘It’s just really frustrating, we don’t know how long it’s going to be for or what happens next. It’s going to be the final nail in the coffin for many many operators. It’s just disastrous news.’
Ms Nicholls said ministers urgently need to clarify whether the 10pm curfew is when trading must cease or whether it is when pubs must shut – which would restrict most outlets to just one sitting.
Ms Nicholls told the BBC: ‘It depends how the government frames this. If they draft it as cease trading at 10pm, the impact will be lessened, but if as in the North East and North West, where you have to clear the premises and empty the premises and have it closed up by 10pm, that will have a significant economic impact.
‘In effect it reduces revenue by 50 per cent because you need to call last orders for food by 9pm, so you can get everyone out of the door, so you can only have one sitting.
‘And with pubs now fully seated and table service, the same applies to pubs. Although it’s a small change, it will wipe out the shift of jobs at the end of the evening.’
The pub trade (Soho pictured) has reacted furiously that they will bear the brunt of the Government’s crackdown and point to Public Health England figures that illustrate a low spread of Covid-19 in hospitality settings
Soho was bustling last night as drinkers went to pubs and restaurants before the Government ushers in a 10pm curfew
Academics urge Boris Johnson to think twice about plunging Britain into a second lockdown
A group of scientists and doctors have written to the Prime Minister urging him not to opt for a second lockdown and to stop presenting Covid-19 as a mortal danger.
Thirty-two top academics have called on Boris Johnson and his scientific and medical advisers to avoid a knee-jerk reaction to rising cases and hospitalisations.
They said the debate about coronavirus is ‘unhelpful’ because it is divided between people who want total lockdowns and people who want no restrictions at all.
Calling for decision-makers to ‘step back’ and think carefully about what to do next, the researchers said there had not yet been any ‘readily observable pattern’ between tight social distancing rules and the numbers of people dying of coronavirus.
The open letter was written by Oxford’s Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Carl Heneghan, by the University of Buckingham’s Professor Karol Sikora, and by Sam Williams, director of the consultancy firm Economic Insight.
Tweeting a copy of the letter today, cancer doctor Professor Sikora pleaded: ‘We desperately need a rethink to find a better balance’.
Wetherpoons’ Mr Martin suggested the measures will not help tackle the virus. He told Talk Radio: ‘What does a curfew do? It says everyone has to go at 10pm, so that doesn’t mean you can’t get a virus. Many of us have been 18, 19, 20 in the past. So what are you going to do at 10pm? Go home to Mum?’
Mr Johnson is under mounting pressure from his backbenches to avoid imposing measures that will throttle the economic recovery.
Senior Tory MP Sir Bernard Jenkin said the 10pm curfew will be a ‘terrible blow’ to landlords.
He told the BBC: ‘The people running pubs, owning pubs, these people are in terrible strain.
‘And the life line of the bounce back loans and the grants has kept these people, just about, their heads above water, and this will be a terrible blow to them.’
The pandemic has already taken a toll on the hospitality sector, which has suffered a rout on jobs as footfall nosedived and venues were forced to shutter.
Wetherspoons said it had written to its 1,000 airport staff to warn them that between 400 and 450 of their jobs are at risk of redundancy.
John Hutson, the company’s chief executive, said: ‘The decision is mainly a result of a downturn in trade in these pubs, linked with the large reduction in passenger numbers using the airports.
‘We should emphasise that no firm decisions have been made at this stage,’ he added, saying that Wetherspoon will listen to its staff to reduce the number of compulsory redundancies.
The job cuts will take place at Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports.
Less than two months ago the company announced that it was planning to make between 110 to 130 head office workers redundant.
‘Wetherspoon is proposing to collectively consult with employees through an employment representative committee, which will be established for this purpose,’ Mr Hutson added.
Premier Inn owner Whitbread this morning warned it could axe up to 6,000 jobs as the coronavirus crisis continues to hit demand for hotel stays.
The hospitality company also owns Brewers Fayre, Beefeater and Table Table restaurants, while operating around 800 Premier Inns across the country.
Chief executive Alison Brittain said in a statement: ‘With demand for travel remaining subdued, we are now having to make some very difficult decisions, and it is with great regret that today we are announcing our intention to enter into a consultation process that could result in up to 6,000 redundancies in the UK.’
The London-listed leisure firm said that it expected a ‘significant proportion’ of the redundancies would be on a voluntary basis.
Sir Patrick Vallance yesterday warned the UK could face 50,000 new coronavirus cases by mid-October if the spread of the disease is not curtailed. He is pictured alongside Professor Chris Whitty in Downing Street this morning
FTSE 100 claws back some losses after yesterday’s £51bn plunge
The FTSE 100 clawed back ground this morning after the worst sell off since June saw more than £50billion wiped off the value of Britain’s blue chip companies.
The index was 0.3% in the green at opening today – up 38 points to 5,821 – a day after a £51bn plunge amid a market rout across Europe and America caused by a spike in Covid infections.
Pub chains and airlines were hammered as ministers warned of new rules to limit social contact, while banking shares slid amid fresh claims of money laundering.
Emma McClarkin of the British Beer and Pub Association, which represents 20,000 pubs, called on the Government to ‘safeguard’ brewing and pub jobs by putting a sector-specific furlough scheme in place beyond October and extending the VAT cut and business rates holiday.
Some 140 pubs have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister warning of ‘thousands of job cuts’ if there is a second lockdown.
The Campaign for Pubs, which represents publicans, wrote: ‘Already many publicans are facing serious anxiety about the situation and current levels of trade.
‘Be in no doubt, many pubs are already on the edge and could not survive any further restrictions to trade.’
Thousands of jobs have been lost across Britain as the financial impact of Covid-19 continues to hit the economy.
Data released this month shows more than 300,000 jobs were put at risk of redundancy in June and July – nearly seven times higher than last year’s levels.
Restaurant and hotel chains have been hit hard during the pandemic, after many were forced to close during the first months of the coronavirus lockdown.
Costa Coffee, which was sold by Whitbread last year, has said 1,650 staff are at risk of redundancy as it looks to cut costs.
Coffee and sandwich chain Pret a Manger confirmed it has axed 2,800 roles from its shops, while Pizza Express plans to permanently shut 73 of its restaurants, putting 1,100 jobs at risk.
On September 9, Lloyds Bank announced it was cutting 865 jobs, just days after the Cooperative Bank revealed it was to axe around 350 jobs from up and down the country and close 18 branches.
Last month Natwest Group announced it too was cutting 550 jobs in branches across the UK and closing one of its remaining offices in London.
How more than 190,000 jobs have now been lost or are at risk amid the coronavirus pandemic
Here is a list of some of the major British employers that have announced major job cuts since the start of the lockdown.
Major potential job losses announced since March 23: 194,997
- September 18 – Investec – 210
- September 18 – Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways – 90
- September 15 – Waitrose – 124
- September 14 – London City Airport – 239
- September 9 – Pizza Hut – 450 at risk
- September 9 – Lloyds Bank – 865
- September 3 – Virgin Atlantic – 1,150
- September 3 – Costa – 1,650
- September 2 – Heathrow – 1,200
- August 27 – Pret a Manger – 2,800
- August 25 – Co-operative bank – 350
- August 20 – Alexander Dennis – 650
- August 18 – Bombardier – 95
- August 18 – M&S – 7,000
- August 17 – easyJet – 670
- August 17 – Jet2 – 102
- August 16 – Debenhams – 14,000 at risk
- August 14 – John Lewis – 399 at risk
- August 14 – Yo! Sushi – 250
- August 14 – River Island – 350
- August 12 – NatWest – 550
- August 11 – InterContinental Hotels – 650 worldwide
- August 11 – Debenhams – 2,500
- August 7 – Evening Standard – 115
- August 6 – Travelex – 1,300
- August 6 – Wetherspoons – 110 to 130
- August 5 – M&Co – 380
- August 5 – Arsenal FC – 55
- August 5 – WH Smith – 1,500
- August 4 – Dixons Carphone – 800
- August 4 – Pizza Express – 1,100 at risk
- August 3 – Hays Travel – up to 878
- August 3 – DW Sports – 1,700 at risk
- July 31 – Byron – 651
- July 30 – Pendragon – 1,800
- July 29 – Waterstones – unknown number of head office roles
- July 28 – Selfridges – 450
- July 27 – Oak Furnitureland – 163 at risk
- July 23 – Dyson – 600 in UK, 300 overseas
- July 22 – Mears – fewer than 200
- July 20 – Marks & Spencer – 950 at risk
- July 17 – Azzurri Group (owns Zizzi and Ask Italian) – up to 1,200
- July 16 – Genting – 1,642 at risk
- July 16 – Burberry – 150 in UK, 350 overseas
- July 15 – Banks Mining – 250 at risk
- July 15 – Buzz Bingo – 573 at risk
- July 14 – Vertu – 345
- July 14 – DFS – up to 200 at risk
- July 9 – General Electric – 369
- July 9 – Eurostar – unknown number
- July 9 – Boots – 4,000
- July 9 – John Lewis – 1,300 at risk
- July 9 – Burger King – 1,600 at risk
- July 7 – Reach (owns Daily Mirror and Daily Express newspapers) – 550
- July 2 – Casual Dining Group (owns Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge) – 1,909
- July 1 – SSP (owns Upper Crust) – 5,000 at risk
- July 1 – Arcadia (owns TopShop) – 500
- July 1 – Harrods – 700
- July 1 – Virgin Money – 300
- June 30 – Airbus – 1,700
- June 30 – TM Lewin – 600
- June 30 – Smiths Group – ‘some job losses’
- June 25 – Royal Mail – 2,000
- June 24 – Jet2 – 102
- June 24 – Swissport – 4,556
- June 24 – Crest Nicholson – 130
- June 23 – Shoe Zone – unknown number of jobs in head office
- June 19 – Aer Lingus – 500
- June 17 – HSBC – unknown number of jobs in UK, 35,000 worldwide
- June 15 – Jaguar Land Rover – 1,100
- June 15 – Travis Perkins – 2,500
- June 12 – Le Pain Quotidien – 200
- June 11 – Bombardier – 600
- June 11 – Johnson Matthey – 2,500
- June 11 – Centrica – 5,000
- June 10 – Quiz – 93
- June 10 – The Restaurant Group (owns Frankie and Benny’s) – 3,000
- June 10 – Monsoon Accessorise – 545
- June 10 – Everest Windows – 188
- June 8 – BP – 10,000 worldwide
- June 8 – Mulberry – 375
- June 5 – Victoria’s Secret – 800 at risk
- June 5 – Bentley – 1,000
- June 4 – Aston Martin – 500
- June 4 – Lookers – 1,500
- May 29 – Belfast International Airport – 45
- May 28 – Debenhams (in second announcement) – ‘hundreds’ of jobs
- May 28 – EasyJet – 4,500 worldwide
- May 26 – McLaren – 1,200
- May 22 – Carluccio’s – 1,000
- May 21 – Clarks – 900
- May 20 – Rolls-Royce – 9,000
- May 20 – Bovis Homes – unknown number
- May 19 – Ovo Energy – 2,600
- May 19 – Antler – 164
- May 15 – JCB – 950 at risk
- May 13 – Tui – 8,000 worldwide
- May 12 – Carnival UK (owns P&O Cruises and Cunard) – 450
- May 11 – P&O Ferries – 1,100 worldwide
- May 5 – Virgin Atlantic – 3,150
- May 1 – Ryanair – 3,000 worldwide
- April 30 – Oasis Warehouse – 1,800
- April 29 – WPP – unknown number
- April 28 – British Airways – 12,000
- April 23 – Safran Seats – 400
- April 23 – Meggitt – 1,800 worldwide
- April 21 – Cath Kidston – 900
- April 17 – Debenhams – 422
- March 31 – Laura Ashley – 268
- March 30 – BrightHouse – 2,400 at risk
- March 27 – Chiquito – 1,500 at risk.