# 10 causes confusion after confirming the loophole

Downing Street has confirmed that there is a void allowing people from different households to meet at level two and three restaurants when they are working.

A spokesman said today, "There is a specific exception that is that people from different households can gather in indoor spaces that are open for work."

But they stressed that this was intended for freelancers and not a green light for pub meals with friends under the guise of juicy work lunches.

Number 10 said, “The reason for this is that there are some people like self-employed and freelancers who may not have a job to hold business meetings that need to be face to face.

"We would encourage people to use alternatives to work meetings whenever possible."

However, it has been suggested that this is merely a guide and that non-freelancers who exploit the loophole will not be liable for fines.

Today's hospitality industry called the rules a "gray area" and said further clarification was needed.

The gap could pave the way for an increase in "work lunches" among the 28 million people living under more stringent restrictions that prohibit mixing two households indoors.

Up to 30 people from different households can meet indoors for work, provided that the place where they meet is Covid-safe, according to the government.

The obvious loophole caused a stir on Twitter today. Some users planned a “working lunch of eight pints at 9:00 p.m.” and a “meeting at 9:00 a.m.” in a Wetherspoon pub – while it also raises the hopes of the hospitality bosses in an emergency.

A spokesman for No. 10 confirmed that, according to the applicable regulations, people are asked to limit their social contact and to work from home “where possible”, but meet “in high or very high areas” in the house for work purposes allowed to.

Restaurateurs and landlords are now urgently calling for much-needed clarity on the loophole that they hope can revive their business.

Officials insist the curbs suppress Covid-19, but the restrictions are increasingly being criticized by Tory hawks who view them as detrimental to the economy.

The Department of Business, Energy and Industry Strategy said office workers should continue to work from home and that people should not go to restaurants or pubs with people outside of their household in tier 2 areas.

In tier 3 areas, pubs that do not offer “extensive meals” are closed.

Kate Nicholls, head of UKHopsitality, who warned London Mayor Sadiq Khan that stage two restrictions would result in 250,000 job losses in the capital, described the gap as a "real gray area".

And she told MailOnline: “We urge the government to clarify what is allowed under the new restrictions and the exception for business meetings.

"For many venues this is a significant part of their revenue and we urge a pragmatic approach to interpretation and enforcement."

Stool on a tabletop in a cocktail bar in Covent Garden, London last Saturday

Stool on a tabletop in a cocktail bar in Covent Garden, London last Saturday

Drinkers outside a pub in Soho, London, on Saturday after Tier 2 restrictions were imposed

Drinkers outside a pub in Soho, London, on Saturday after Tier 2 restrictions were imposed

On Saturday people passed empty tables outside a restaurant in Covent Garden, London

On Saturday people passed empty tables outside a restaurant in Covent Garden, London

Ranalad Macdonald, executive director of London-based restaurant group Boisdale, warned last week that it may have to close if work meetings are banned.

Top chef Yotam Ottolenghi joins hospitality workers in protesting the "devastating" lockdown on Tier 2 London which they say will "kill" restaurants and bars

Yotam Ottolenghi in London yesterday

Yotam Ottolenghi in London yesterday

Top chef Yotam Ottolenghi, together with hospitality workers, held a loud demonstration against the "devastating" second stage coronavirus restrictions in central London.

Around 200 workers, from farmers to cooks to event organizers, filled Parliament Square with metallic commotion on Monday morning by hitting metal cooking utensils.

From midnight on Friday, London was moved to the second stage of lockdown, which means people from different households – even in restaurants – are not allowed to mix indoors, with socially distant mixing outdoors allowed for groups of up to six people .

The shock restrictions, announced less than 48 hours earlier, mean 200,000 potential job losses for hospitality workers in central London alone.

Critics have warned that the lockdown puts "maximum revenue pressure and no support" in place for weak businesses and employees.

Almost a third of the restaurants and pubs in England are expected to be affected by the tougher curbs – more than 8,500 venues and 5,000 pubs.

He told City AM, "All of our lunch trade is business … We will go from a loss in trade to bleeding."

It comes after experts warned that the Covid-19 disaster is creating "ghost towns" across the UK and threatening to shed more than a million jobs.

A record of 11,120 known retail stores and around 125,000 stores were lost after the initial lockdown triggered a move off the main streets.

However, this is only the tip of the iceberg as there are fears that job losses in shops, pubs and restaurants could increase if new lockdowns are introduced this winter.

Hospitality leaders say that up to 750,000 jobs could be created in their sector alone by early next year – and a total of 255,000 retail jobs could be lost by the end of 2020.

Kay Neufeld from the Center for Economic and Corporate Research said it was "plausible" that more than a million jobs could be lost in retail and hospitality alone.

The Social Market Foundation, an independent think tank, said, "Lower demand for office space and a seemingly inevitable decline in traditional retailing risk the creation of ghost towns and city centers."

The UK Chambers of Commerce warn of "hundreds of thousands of job losses" amid the closure of the vacation program, which is currently helping more than two million workers this month.

According to the British Beer and Pub Association, more than one in four of the UK's 39,700 pubs may not survive the pandemic.

Greene King plans to close 79 pubs, putting 800 jobs at risk, while Young & # 39; s, Wetherspoons, Fuller & # 39; s and City Pub Company have announced plans to cut hundreds of employees.

Greene King's Nick Mackenzie said, "Pubs are becoming increasingly unprofitable." He added, "This means extending vacation to all restricted eateries, not just those forced to close, extending vacation sales tax and business rates, and lowering beer tax."

Pub and restaurant operator Mitchells & Butlers, which owns Harvester and All Bar One, said the industry is facing "exceptionally challenging and uncertain circumstances."

They added, "We urge the government to increase the level of support it is providing to an industry that has repeatedly singled out and shouldered the full burden of restrictions."