Fears for tiers - hospitality holds its breath as majority of England faces tougher restrictions

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Fears for tiers - hospitality holds its breath as majority of England faces tougher Coronavirus restrictions

Related tags Coronavirus tier system Coronavirus lockdown Restaurant Pub

Most regions in England look set to be placed into the toughest two tiers of the Government's Coronavirus alert system with hospitality businesses bearing the brunt of the tougher restrictions.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will announce which areas will go into which tier later this morning (26 November), with Prime Minister Boris Johnson expected to address the nation in a press conference this evening.

There have been suggestions that no area will be placed into the more relaxed Tier 1, under which hospitality could continue operating with limited restrictions including an 11pm curfew on operating hours. However, the BBC​ ​says that it understands a 'handful' of regions - likely concentrated in the South West where transmission rates remain low - will enter the lower tier.

Most areas, including London and Liverpool, appear set to be placed in Tier 2 where pubs and bars face now closure unless they can serve 'substantial meals'; while 'significant numbers' will be pushed into Tier 3 where, under the new rules, all hospitality businesses will have to remain locked down and only be allowed to offer takeaways.

Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has reportedly said he expects the Greater Manchester region to be thrown back into Tier 3, with Birmingham and the East Midlands also rumoured to be heading for the toughest tier. 

The measures will be reviewed on 16 December, meaning areas could move tiers again before Christmas.

Earlier this week the Prime Minister warned​ that many areas in England are likely to be moved into a higher tier than they were in before.

This morning many operators, particularly pub owners, were holding their breath as they wait to hear their fate.

Stosie Madi, chef patron of the Parkers Arms pub in Lancashire, tweeted: "On tenterhooks already. Tier 2 please at least. Thank you."

Responding to news of the tougher tier restrictions on Monday (23 November), trade body UKHospitality accused the Government of 'killing Christmas' for the sector and warned that the tighter rules will lead to permanent business closures and many job losses.

“The Government is making a point of saying that these measures are needed in order to save Christmas," said Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality chief executive.

"In reality, they are killing Christmas and beyond for many businesses and their customers who look forward to, and rely on, venues being open at this time of year. Sadly, for many staff, it will be a Christmas out of work.

“If there needs to be a tightening of restrictions, it should not come at the expense of hospitality. Only a small fraction of cases have been linked to our businesses and venues have shown that they can provide safe environments for customers and staff. If the Government pursues this course of action, it is going to mean permanent closures and job losses.

“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. “Immediate financial support must now be rapidly increased as many businesses will be forced to close, in some cases permanently."

Adding further fuel to the sector's struggles, it was reported yesterday (25 November) that hospitality venues will not be included in the Government’s so-called ‘Christmas bubble plan​, which ​will allow up to three households to meet between 23-27 December.

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