The government has announced a new 10pm curfew for all pubs, bars and restaurants in England, effective from Thursday (24 September).
The new restriction will be imposed in response to an alarming spike in Coronavirus cases, with chief medical officer Chris Whitty warning yesterday that the UK could have 50,000 new Covid-19 cases per day come mid-October if changes to our current way of life aren't made.
The 10pm curfew will be enforced across all of England, even though it was initially believed that the rule would only apply to high-risk areas or cities, such as London.
Restaurants, bars and pubs will also be required to operate on a ‘table service only’ basis, which will particularly affect bars and pubs, who typically welcome patrons to stand at bars. Many venues in England have already moved to table service only operations in an attempt to make their venues Covid-secure, but this move enshrines the measures in law.
Hospitality figures have reacted with shock and sadness to the news. Speaking to the Evening Standard before the curfew was officially announced, Sam Harrison (owner of Sam’s Riverside in Hammersmith) said: “This could be the nail in the coffin for many of us. If we’re forced to close at 10pm it will probably take at least 25 per cent off our dinner trade. That will put businesses out of business and jeopardise many jobs.”
On Twitter, several hospitality figures and famous foodies had their say. Former Great British Bake Off star Edd Kimber wrote: “I’m so confused by these new restrictions, all they seem to do is destroy the hospitality industry?”, while food journalist Lisa Markwell shared a graph which claimed just 5% of Covid-19 outbreaks in England came from food outlets or restaurants.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to address the nation on television tonight (Tuesday) at 8pm. In his address, the Prime Minister is expected to announce further restrictions, including additional updates to the current ‘rule of six’, which forbids groups of more than six people gathering in certain settings.
Stay tuned for more details.
If you’re keen to support the hospitality sector, check out the London restaurants that have extended their Eat Out to Help Out offers.