Lockdown restrictions will end at 00:01 on 2 December and businesses in Tiers 1 and 2 will be able to reopen from Wednesday morning, The Caterer can confirm.
The hospitality industry has been in a state of confusion over their reopening strategies as communications from the government confirming exactly when on Wednesday 2 December lockdown restrictions will lift and the updated tier system will come into place have been unclear.
The Caterer has confirmed with a government official that the second lockdown will end at 00:01 on 2 December, meaning restaurants and pubs falling into either Tier 1 or Tier 2 will be able to reopen their doors on Wednesday morning. Government advice published online, which has since been edited, previously said the restrictions would apply up to and including 2 December.
The clarification comes after an outcry from the industry over the announcement of the government's winter plan to tackle Covid-19. While the controversial curfew has been replaced with 10pm last orders, tighter tier restrictions for England will be introduced that directly impact hospitality.
Yesterday, prime minister Boris Johnson announced that all of hospitality will close in Tier 3 areas except for delivery and takeaway. Meanwhile, in Tier 2 areas alcohol can only be served as part of a ‘substantial meal' and there can be no household mixing indoors.
Le Gavroche chef-restaurateur Michel Roux Jr called for clarification on whether the industry can open its doors with a subsequent Twitter thread highlighting confusion over whether the restrictions would ease at midnight on Tuesday or midnight on Wednesday, leaving the question whether restaurants, bars and pubs could reopen on Wednesday or Thursday morning.
To add to the confusion, the industry must wait until later this week to hear which areas of England fall into which tier, and with the prime minister saying yesterday "many more places will be in higher tiers than alas was previously the case", the sector will be waiting on tenterhooks for the announcement which is expected on Thursday.
Roux told The Caterer: "I am grateful for the extra day of trade, if in T2 we will open on Wednesday, however the communication from government leaves much to be desired."
Francisco Macedo, general manager at the five-red-AA-starred, 48-bedroom Cliveden House in Taplow, Berkshire, told The Caterer he was struggling to manage and answer his team's questions with the continued mixed messages.
"One moment we cannot open until 3 December and in another moment it seems we can actually open on 2 December, but no real confirmation of any of it," he said.
"The reality is that we cannot even confirm to the team the opening on 2 or 3 as we don't even know which Tier we will find ourselves until Thursday! [We will have] five days' notice of a potential opening to liaise with the team members, suppliers and our guests – this really is not fair on our industry, an industry that employs over three million people."