Restaurateurs have been left fearing bookings will be hit once again after the government imposed restrictions banning different households meeting indoors in parts of northern England.
People from separate households have been told they cannot meet in indoor environments, including pubs, restaurants and cafés, in areas of Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and West Yorkshire.
The announcement was made by health secretary Matt Hancock last night and came into force at midnight, just hours later.
Simon Wood of restaurant Wood Manchester told The Caterer this morning: "It took the government two weeks to decide you have to wear facemasks, but two hours to say certain people can't go to pubs and restaurants, and yet pubs and restaurants can stay open.
"It's exactly what they did at the start when they just hung us out to dry. And when we see our bookings dwindling and can't afford to pay the wages, what do we do? We just have to carry on – there's no alternative.
"A lot of our tables are twos anyway, which would imply they're couples from the same household. We're more than two metres apart and always have been, so we'll just have to carry on. There are so many nonsenses around it: my staff aren't from the same household but they're able to work together. This is coming from a government that opens McDonald's before gyms and then launched an obesity campaign."
Hawksmoor has confirmed that its Manchester restaurant will remain open and said it not be "policing who is from which household", although will speak to groups where there might be "reasonable doubt". It will also write to those with reservations to remind them of the new rules.
In a statement the restaurant group said: "We will keep all this under review of course – a deteriorating health situation leading to changes in government guidance may change things but for the meantime it feels important to us to be there for the people of Manchester if they want a place to escape and enjoy time with their families/households."
The government has said it will put in place new laws to enforce the measures, which could see police hand out £100 fines for contraventions.
At the same time restrictions that have been in place in Leicester for a month were partially lifted to be brought in line with those being imposed in the north. This will allow hospitality businesses to open on 3 August for the first time since lockdown was announced back in March.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: "We're constantly looking at the latest data on the spread of coronavirus, and unfortunately we've seen an increasing rate of transmission in parts of northern England.
"We've been working with local leaders across the region, and today I chaired a meeting of the Local Action Gold Committee. Based on the data, we decided that in Greater Manchester, parts of West Yorkshire and East Lancashire we need to take immediate action to keep people safe.
"The spread is largely due to households meeting and not abiding to social distancing. So from midnight tonight, people from different households will not be allowed to meet each other indoors in these areas.
"We take this action with a heavy heart, but we can see increasing rates of coronavirus across Europe and are determined to do whatever is necessary to keep people safe."
City of Manchester
Blackburn with Darwen
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