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More areas of east and south-east England moved into Tier 3 while Bristol hospitality can reopen from Saturday

17 December 2020 by
More areas of east and south-east England moved into Tier 3 while Bristol hospitality can reopen from Saturday

Following the government's tier review this week, further areas of east and south-east England will be moved into Tier 3, while hospitality businesses in Bristol and north Somerset will be able to reopen from Saturday as the region moves down into Tier 2.

From one minute past midnight on Saturday, hospitality businesses will have to close except for takeaway and delivery in areas including Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Peterborough, Berkshire, the whole of Hertfordshire, Surrey (with the exception of Waverley), Hastings and Rother in East Sussex, and Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant in Hampshire.

Herefordshire will also move out of Tier 2 down to Tier 1.

Announcing the news in the Commons today, health secretary Matt Hancock said: "I know that Tier 3 measures are tough but the best way for everyone to get out of them is to pull together, not just to follow the rules but to do everything they possibly can to prevent the spread of the virus."

The government has committed to reviewing the tiers every two weeks, although London and areas of Hertfordshire and Essex were put into Tier 3 on Wednesday ahead of the official review.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls warned: "Placing more areas into Tier 3 is only going to ruin Christmas for those businesses entering and continued despair and heartbreak for those hard-pressed businesses that had hoped they might move into Tier 2.

"Businesses will have bought stock which will now go to waste and more people will lose work at a stressful time. Hotels are now facing a deluge of short-notice cancellations because of the tightening of restrictions. What was already looking like a bleak Christmas is now looking like a total write-off.

"This will be a bitter blow for businesses that would have been hoping to make the best of a difficult Christmas period. The increased restrictions, effectively a total shutdown for most, will make it even more difficult for businesses to salvage what little they can from what should be a busy period.

"More financial support most be forthcoming if we are to have any hope that these businesses will survive. They can trade their way out of danger next year only if they are still around to do so."

Although Bristol hoteliers welcomed the decision to take the region down into Tier 2, they said it has come too late to enable them to cash in on Christmas and secure any meaningful income.

Raphael Herzog, chair of the Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA), which represents around 40 businesses in and around the city, said: "Even though we can now re-open, we have lost all December trade.

"Many hoteliers had been keen to show off their Christmas decorations to customers. These were put up in November, but this effort – and investment – was wasted because we have not been able to open.

"Although today's review means that we can re-open, because we've had no prior notice, it would be very difficult to re-open for the last weekend before Christmas, as we've had no time to get food or other supplies or build a booking base."

The news will also come as a disappointment to Manchester operators, who were hoping to reopen in time for Christmas.

Sacha Lord, night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, said: "We had an extremely strong argument to be moved into Tier 2, with lowering infection rates across the region, however yet again we are stuck in limbo with no clear guidance on how to escape.

"I'm gutted not only for hospitality operators across Greater Manchester, but for those across all regions who have been moved or resigned to stay in Tier 3.

"Together with greater financial aid to prevent these businesses going under, I continue to call on the government to show us the evidence that merits their closure.

"Christmas is the busiest time of year for everyone who works in food and beverage. Not just the bars and restaurants but suppliers, security staff, musicians and hundreds of thousands of others. They now face a Christmas of upset, worry and stress.

"The health and safety of the public must come first, but the closure of pubs, restaurants and bars will not stop the virus spreading. It only serves to push people to socialise indoors, where there are no Covid regulations, no hourly cleaning policies, no social distancing. Looking at the current evidence, the closure of hospitality could in fact result in more infections."

Concerns have been raised that with the restrictions on hospitality businesses, people will instead hold unregulated gatherings over the Christmas and New Year period. The Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) has estimated that more than 5,000 illegal parties will take place over the New Year weekend.

Photo: Shutterstock

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