Londoners sat down before Christmas to enjoy their last few bars. Industry experts warn that more than 160,000 jobs in the hotel industry have been jeopardized by the move to Tier 3.
London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will be placed under Tier 3 curbs starting tonight.
The announcement was made yesterday by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who also revealed in the House of Commons that a new strain of the virus has spread to southern England.
But hospitality chiefs slammed the "catastrophic" decision to move London and parts of its home countries into the higher range of restrictions.
They warned that the closure of pubs, bars and restaurants would cut £ 2.7 billion from the economy as trading ceases at its busiest time of year.
They called for an urgent support package for the hospitality sector so that businesses can survive into the new year.
It came when Londoners started drinking early in pubs across the capital before the city dips into Tier 3 tonight.
Some businesses in town were selling well-priced drinks as they tried to run out of supplies just hours before the shutdown.
Londoners started drinking early in pubs across the capital before the city plunged into Tier 3 tonight. Pictured: drinkers in a Wetherspoons pub in south west London around 10:30 a.m. today
Some companies were offering reasonably priced drinks as they are trying to get rid of their stocks just hours before closing
News of higher restrictions in London and parts of the home countries comes as follows:
- The UK recorded an additional 20,263 coronavirus cases yesterday, up more than a third from last Monday's total.
- The death toll on Monday was 232 people – a 22.8 percent increase from the 189 deaths recorded the same day last week.
- Health Secretary Matt Hancock has urged the British to consider pre-isolation before meeting vulnerable elderly relatives this Christmas to reduce the risk.
- The number of coronavirus cases in England fell by a quarter during the second national lockdown, the government-sponsored REACT-1 study found.
Greg Mulholland, campaign spokesman for pubs, slammed the government for announcing the decision less than two weeks before Christmas.
He said the government's announcement was a "shocking way of treating tax collectors and their families" and warned that it would marginalize many businesses.
The campaign manager and former MP said: "This is devastating news for pubs and customs officers in London and the home countries.
“Getting into Tier 3 just a few weeks after reopening to get restricted trading, and just a few weeks before Christmas.
All of London will be put into Tier 3 lockdown tonight, prompting drinkers in the capital to have an early beer before the hospitality sector has to close due to the new restrictions
Industry insiders called the minimal pre-closure notification "catastrophic" and a "shocking way of treating customs officers".
"We are very concerned about the impact this will have on not only livelihoods but also mental health."
“This is a shocking way of treating tax collectors and their families, especially in the run-up to Christmas.
The former MP and campaign manager for the Campaign for Pubs said the government's announcement was a "shocking way of treating tax collectors and their families" and warned that it would marginalize many businesses
"The government is constantly changing its minds and rules and is having a devastating impact that will threaten the future of many of our beloved pubs in these higher-ranking areas across the country."
The former MP for Leeds North West also highlighted how the short-term announcement will leave many business owners high and dry with unusable stocks – another addition to their financial troubles.
"Pubs will have stocks on the basis that they were allowed to be open at this crucial trading time of the year and are now forced to close within a few days and dispose of them without any government compensation," he said. "We urgently need a support package."
Industry insiders warned that pub closings would cost billions of dollars in the UK economy and put thousands of jobs at risk.
According to the British Beer and Pub Association, there are 3,680 pubs and 56,000 jobs in the sector in the capital alone.
Kate Nicholls, the UK's hospitality manager, warned that the closure would "change the face of the capital for years to come".
She said, “The business impact of this shutdown is utterly disastrous.
Industry insiders warned that only one in five London eateries has effectively reopened since December 2, and the move to Tier 3 means many more may never reopen
“This has both immediate and dire effects on the companies that are being forced to close, and the effects will continue to affect larger companies in the long term.
“For the companies directly affected, £ 2.7 billion will be withdrawn from the London economy in the last two weeks of December.
"It's such a disproportionate effect because it's the two busiest trading weeks of the year that have been lost in the world's largest and most valuable hotel business."
UK Hospitality Manager Kate Nicholls called for an urgent package of support for businesses that had to close due to the Tier 3 closure
"In addition, 160,000 jobs are at risk shortly before Christmas."
Mrs. Nicholls said Only one in five London eateries has effectively reopened since December 2nd, and the move to Tier 3 means many more may never reopen.
The government's decision to move the affected areas to Tier 3 within 48 hours also adds to the financial woes of pubs and restaurants that will be forced to dispose of their unused inventory.
Mr. Mulholland added: “The customs officers and their families are very upset that the government is allowing, and in fact allowing, large crowds of people to gather to shop in a totally unregulated environment while enjoying pubs and hospitality Scapegoat and force them to close and give them mocking support in response.
“We need to have adequate support, the government cannot continue to treat pubs as they did without proper support.
A surge in infections means London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire are being moved under the third tier curbs
"The evidence-based decision they are making is extremely questionable, worn out, but now that they have made this devastating decision, they need to develop an appropriate package of support for all of the Tier 3 areas."
"People are very concerned about the future of their business and livelihood at the end of a very difficult year."
Ms. Nicholls joined in calls for a full support package to help businesses facing difficulties in the face of the closure.
She called on the government to extend vacation rates for business travel through 2022 and to extend the lower VAT rate for tourism and hospitality services for all of next year.
"It will be a ripple effect if we cannot provide additional support to these companies," she said.
"This support will allow these companies to make confidential investment decisions for the next year, avoid unnecessary job losses over the holiday season, and maintain support throughout the recovery."