As the hospitality industry readies for Thursday's curfew in the wake of Boris Johnson's announcement, that will also include implementing table service by law, London's on-trade voice their concerns
To say the UK's hospitality has gone through its most difficult challenge in recent decades in an understatement: from the government encouraging the public to avoid venues, to the imposed lockdown and restrictive reopening on 4 July, the last seven months or so has seen an onslaught of closures across the sector.
And from Thursday, following the north-west's 10pm curfew restrictions being implemented, bars, restaurants and pubs across the nation are facing a 10pm curfew, as well as a table-service legal requirement. A change in government's messaging for workers to now return to working from home, if possible, will also put venues in city centres at further risk – not to mention the impending end of the furlough scheme. The new changes could last for as much as six months.
For those bars, restaurants and pubs who take most of their profits after 10pm, this Thursday marks yet another challenge. London's on-trade has voiced their concerns for what could be 'the moment hospitality died'.
Deano Moncrieffe, owner of Hacha Bar
'It’s a total disaster, just as we were starting to recover. We can’t even plan ahead for Christmas which is obviously the busiest time of year, we can’t take group bookings and now we can’t open 10pm-11pm when we usually make most of our money!
'Now is the time we really need Eat Out to Help Out more than ever to help offset the financial lost from reduced hours of operating!'
Andy Kerr, co-founder of The Umbrella Project
'As a late night bar group who take the majority of our revenue between 9pm-1am, this is a travesty for us. We’ve been following distancing and hygiene guidelines extremely closely and don’t deserve to be penalised.
'Our Bethnal Green venue has existed since 1851. This could be the end for us and it’ll get turned in to more luxury flats that locals can’t afford. We want to pay our staff, we want to serve the community, and our guests are safer here than with 10 of their mates in an enclosed flat.'
Monica Berg, co-owner of Tayēr + Elementary
'The fact is, we are being penalised for the government's weakness and lack of ability. We could have been a great ally, instead we are being blamed for something we did not cause. If this ban is not followed by some sort of protective measures to help hospitality – this week will be remembered as the moment hospitality died.'
Alex Kratena, co-owner of Tayēr + Elementary
'Bars like ours take 70% of the revenue after 10pm – we are already doing 50% less business than last year. Government data shows that only 5% of infections are connected to hospitality – the only thing the government is killing here is a small, independent, award-winning business that creates culture and a sense of place. We have now been served a death sentence. I’ve been here for 15 years, I could lose my life long dream.
'The government failed to deliver functioning testing and track and trace and instead is putting thousands of businesses at risk and hundreds of thousands livelihoods will be lost. Hospitality must not be punished for failures of this government.'
Max Venning, co-owner of Three Sheets and Top Cuvée
‘It’s another big hurdle for hospitality to try and get over. We have to adapt again and try and make it work but it’s becoming increasingly difficult without support. To tell people to avoid public places but not tell venues to shut fits with the government's attitude of washing their hands of responsibility over our industry.'
Mia Johansson & Bobby Hiddleston, owners of Swift (Soho & Shoreditch)
'Wet bars make our profits in the evenings, by cutting our takings by a minimum of 25% and again scaring away guests instead of educating and setting boundaries about health and safety measures, the government is slicing our wrists for a slow death which won't show the blood on their hands.
'All the evidence points to the schools being the cause of the rise in infections. Children need to be back in school, but punishing the hospitality industry in this way is needless. Either shut us down completely and reinstate furlough, or let us do our business properly. Scaring honest people away from businesses in this way is irresponsible.'