Easing of restrictions over Christmas labelled a 'mockery' as hospitality shut out from plans

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Hospitality shut out of plans to ease restrictions over Christmas

Related tags Christmas Coronavirus lockdown Coronavirus tier system Restaurant Pub

Government plans to relax Coronavirus restrictions nationwide over the Christmas period have been branded a 'mockery' after it emerged the tougher restrictions imposed on hospitality venues would remain in place.

Last night (25 November) it was confirmed that an arrangement between Westminster and devolved nations had been agreed to allow an easing of social restrictions between 23 to 27 December.

Up to three households will be able to form a so-called 'Christmas bubble' and be allowed to gather in private homes, attend places of worship together and meet in outdoor public places.

However, tighter restrictions set to be imposed on hospitality venues in higher tier areas from next week will remain in place, meaning all hospitality in Tier 3 areas will have to remain closed except for takeaway.

Meanwhile, those in Tier 2 will only be able to serve alcohol with 'substantial meals', effectively shutting wet-led pubs out of the opportunity to open over the Christmas week.

The Government will set out which areas in England will go into which tier on Thursday (26 November), but the Prime Minister has already warned that many areas are likely to be moved into a higher tier than they were in before.

In Wales up to four people from different households will be able to in indoor hospitality settings, although larger groups of people who all live in the same house will be allowed to eat and drink out together providing they can show they are from the same dwelling.

For Scotland, the current five-tier Coronavirus alert system, which is currently forcing hospitality venues across 11 local authorities in the west of the country to remain closed under the toughest restrictions, will remain in place.

Trade body the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has labelled the decision not to relax the restrictions on hospitality over the Christmas period a 'mockery' and demanded the Government fully compensate businesses for the trade they will lose as a result.

“These plans for Christmas make a mockery of the extra restrictions being placed on pubs and the economic devastation they are facing this Christmas," says Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA.

“How can it be that pubs cannot properly open while households can mix in private settings? The Government data has consistently shown that house-to-house transmission is one of the highest, whereas hospitality has accounted for as little as 2% of COVID incidences when open.

“Pubs are a controlled, safe and regulated environment to socialise in – following all Government guidelines and working with NHS track and trace. They are part of the solution for a safe and enjoyable Christmas, not the problem.

“It seems the Government has chosen to inflict unnecessary pain and irreversible damage on our sector without publishing evidence alongside these decisions.

“If the Government is really going to stop pubs from opening this Christmas then they must be fully compensated.

"Christmas is the most important time of the year for trade in our sector. This year more than ever. Without it, thousands will not survive the winter unless the Government does the right thing and steps in with financial support to help them. That means grants that fully cover their fixed costs, like during the first lockdown."

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