Can the Curfew: Industry leaders on why they're supporting the campaign

06 October 2020 by

The industry's top chefs, restaurateurs, hoteliers and publicans have explained why they've given their backing to the Can the Curfew campaign.

The campaign is calling for the government to look again at the blanket 10pm curfew and work with the hospitality industry to allow it to do what it does best – look after its guests. It's gained the backing of figures including Tom Kerridge, Robin Hutson, Jeremy King, Richard Corrigan and Asma Khan and you can add your name by signing the petition here.

Tom Kerridge
Tom Kerridge

Tom Kerridge, chef-patron of the Hand & Flowers and the Coach, both in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, said: "I am fully behind the Can the Curfew campaign, as without any clear scientific evidence, it feels like yet another knee-jerk reaction from a misguided government that effects the hospitality industry, without thinking it through properly.

"This industry has bent over backwards and spent millions to provide a safe and secure environment for people to enjoy themselves. If it is a social drinking evening that people are enjoying, they are now all forced to leave at the same time, ensuring higher footfall on the streets, public transport and taxi queues. In terms of the restaurant-going public, people are now all coming earlier, meaning restaurants are pushing as many covers as possible early on, yet again increasing footfall and the risk of contamination, as people are all arriving within close proximity to each other.

"If you are going out for dinner, your attitude to alcohol and drinking is no different if your table is booked at 7pm or 9pm. Many restaurants will be losing a huge amount of revenue due to the fact that they are missing a ‘second seating'. From a hotel perspective, I find it ludicrous and ridiculous that now all guests must leave public areas and retire to their bedrooms at 10pm.

"The hospitality industry is doing everything that it can to create a safe and controlled environment for people to enjoy themselves with a complete understanding that we are in an incredibly serious pandemic. These latest restrictions will prove to be the end for many businesses. The government must look to how it can support the night time economy from a much larger picture of what it and the hospitality industry bring to the UK job and lifestyle market."

The hospitality industry is doing everything that it can to create a safe and controlled environment for people to enjoy themselves with a complete understanding that we are in an incredibly serious pandemic.

To sign the petition click here

Robin Hutson, chairman and chief executive of Home Grown Hotels and the Lime Wood Group, said: "We just need the prime minister to realise that hospitality is his safety ally and absolutely not the cause of the problem. As an industry we have demonstrated admirably since 4 July how to operate safely .

"His attempt to curb a few city centre drinking dens has unwittingly dealt a hammer blow to every corner of the hospitality with this ill-thought-out blanket 10pm law – including tiny rural restaurants, country house hotels and a multitude of other seasonal businesses.

"To make matters worse, he is causing greater levels of infection by pushing the drinkers into unregulated environments. The rule makes no sense; it's bad for the economy and bad for public health. This is why it needs to be reversed."

Asma Khan
Asma Khan

Asma Khan, chef-patron of London's Darjeeling Express, said: "The day the government announced the curfew I was dropping my son to university where many of the students were living in close proximity with sharing facilities. It's very ironic that the government did not consider university students in halls as potential spreaders of the virus – only diners eating in a restaurant after 10pm.

"The threat from Covid is very real to lives and the economy and we needed some joined-up thinking rather than a fragmented approach. It's like expecting your house not to be flooded by shutting off one tap but keeping some others running."

Jeremy Goring, chief executive of the Goring hotel in London, said: "The curfew is having the opposite effect to what was intended. It is costing many people their jobs and is therefore bonkers.

"Throwing everybody out at 10pm has already packed out the tubes and buses, creating a new hotbed that both customers and hospitality staff trying to get home must now squeeze into, when previously they were staggered across several hours, very safely indeed.

"It has also forced some operators to choose between packing more covers in and flirting with the edge of the law or going bust. The announcement caused immediate mass cancellations of rooms and restaurants. This translates to yet more lost jobs. We are one of many operators who had planned to rehire team members who sadly lost their jobs, but had to put that on hold when phones rang off the hook with cancellations following the announcement.

"Hospitality is a force for good in the UK because we take anybody, regardless of background or qualification, and offer opportunity, employment, and a progressing career: four million people would agree. Do smash us if we transgress and fail to meet Covid safety standards. But don't smash us just to try to look good!"

Hospitality is a force for good in the UK because we take anybody, regardless of background or qualification, and offer opportunity, employment, and a progressing career

Tom Aikens
Tom Aikens

Tom Aikens, chef-patron, Muse, London, said: "I truly believe that not all hospitality business should be made to adhere to the 10pm curfew. There are a number of different types of hospitality businesses in this sector that operate very differently and therefore need different measures in place. One rule for all does not work. In my opinion, closing a restaurant earlier does not positively control the risk of the coronavirus transmission.

"Where is the scientific evidence to support the reasoning behind this? All it is doing is negatively impacting the economy and our businesses. In fact we have clearly seen how the curfew has only negatively impacted the spread of COVID. People are travelling en mass as they leave bars and restaurants at the same time and people are now gathering elsewhere afterwards to drink and socialise which is harder to monitor

"I can only speak for myself and my own restaurant Muse, and that we have done everything we can to ensure our guests are dining safety with us. Diners are seated with social distancing measures in place, all staff members wear face masks at all times, sanitisers dispensers are available for all guests and staff at all times, and guests need to wear a face mask when moving throughout the restaurant unless seated.

"In my opinion this curfew is not a well thought out strategy made by our government."


Tommy Banks, owner of the Black Swan at Olstead and Roots in York, said: "The 10pm curfew is the perfect example of the government's lack of understanding of our industry. It's not just an hour of lost business, but being unable to do a second sitting has meant an even further reduction in the number of customers we're able to serve.

"This means a huge reduction in income, threatening the security of many jobs. And let's not overlook all the images on social media of huge crowds leaving restaurants, bars and pubs en masse at 10pm.

"Hospitality by its very nature is one of the safest industries and we put in place many more measures to ensure we could interact with our customers in an even more safe, responsible and socially distanced way.

Hospitality by its very nature is one of the safest industries and we put in place many more measures to ensure we could interact with our customers in an even more safe, responsible and socially distanced way.

"Hospitality is responsible for just 3% of transmissions, so why are we being used as the scapegoat? There are more than three million jobs in hospitality, and it's frightening to think one in five businesses may not be able to reopen, putting almost one million of those jobs at risk. I strongly think the government needs to reconsider this curfew before a post-coronavirus recovery is no longer possible for our industry."

Jeremy King
Jeremy King

Jeremy King, co-founder of Corbin & King, said: "There is absolutely zero justification for the curfew – ask any politician for a coherent explanation and you will fail to get one. A full-service restaurant is one of the safest public venues and there is no reason or justification whatsoever to herd everyone in and out of them at the same time. If they are deemed to be safe at all, then it is inconsequential as to when customers arrive or leave."

There is absolutely zero justification for the curfew – ask any politician for a coherent explanation and you will fail to get one

Richard Corrigan
Richard Corrigan

Richard Corrigan, chef-patron of London's Bentley's, Corrigan's and Daffodil Mulligan, said: "This curfew will be the death of many businesses and will put further jobs at risk. The West End has no tourists, theatres are closed and now guests have to pay the bill while eating their desserts. It's madness! Watching customers wait in the rain for taxis after coming to support us is incredibly frustrating. There is no logic behind this curfew and the government need to stop treating the hospitality industry as a scapegoat. Boris needs to wake up and start listening to one of the UK's biggest employers!"

Mark Birchall
Mark Birchall

Mark Birchall, of Moor Hall Restaurant with Rooms in Lancashire, said: "The curfew has been detrimental to our business. Yes, we understand that restrictions are put in place to mitigate risks to public health but policies like the curfew demonstrate a lack of careful consideration on the part of the government. The full Moor Hall dining experience is about three hours long, so the 10pm curfew has forced us to limit covers considerably.

"We had worked incredibly hard following the latest government guidelines to make Moor Hall safe for customers and staff. The imposition of a curfew is not only damaging for hospitality and the wider economy but it also heightens the risk to health and safety. Crowds of customers are leaving hospitality venues at the same time and heading home to after parties, and restaurants are having to seat more diners at once to make up for lost business as a result of early closing times."

Robin Sheppard
Robin Sheppard

Robin Sheppard, chairman of Bespoke Hotels, said: "The curfew is a blunt instrument with no thought given to the side effects of its use. Indeed it has caused more harm than good by displacing the public from safe environments to more dangerous spaces. An immediate overhaul and customisation of the rule would maximise the intended effect far better".

Joanne Taylor-Stagg, general manager of the Athenaeum Hotel & Residences in London, said: "The curfew is misguided and, together with other restrictions, is undermining any small gains in confidence that Eat Out to Help Out created.

"I believe that well-run hospitality businesses can contribute to the economy safely. The Athenaeum Hotel and Residences operated throughout lockdown for our resident guests and key workers, with guests utilising our rooms, restaurant and spa with no positive Covid cases. We invested heavily in technology that kills viruses and helps us monitor everyone's temperature, layering that on the extremely high cleanliness standards that many quality hotels offer. We can help be the solution to balance lives and livelihoods."

Michael Caines, whose collection of businesses include the five-AA-starred, Michaelin-starred Lympstone Manor, said: "The impact of the 10pm curfew only seems to heighten the problem reducing the control of the risks and thus endangering staff and guests alike. The curfew has caused not only the loss of dining times and covers and therefore a loss of revenue but has also heightened consumer caution and so counterproductive to the recent eat out to help out scheme."

Harry Murray, chairman of Lucknam Park hotel, said: "There is no evidence that Covid-19 is spreading in hospitality venues and the government should trust an industry that puts the wellbeing and safety of guests as a priority. Many have been stringently assessed and accredited with the AA Covid Confident Assessment scheme or similar.

"Restaurants scheduled dinner times to comply with social distancing, but the 10pm curfew makes it necessary to serve from 6pm to meet demand, which many people do not accept. Many people finish work late and don't want to dine or drink until 9pm or 9.30pm – this business has been totally lost due to this curfew."

Ben Tish, culinary director of the Stafford and Norma, said: "The implemented curfew is ill thought through, not based on the right information and dangerous both commercially and from a health perspective. If we don't take action to stop it soon and find another solution then our industry will fail. Can the curfew."

Sign the petition here.

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