Londoners sat down before Christmas to enjoy their last few bars. Industry experts warn that the move to Tier 3 has put more than 160,000 jobs in the hotel industry at risk.
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 that a new strain of the virus has spread across the UK.
But hospitality bosses slammed the "catastrophic" decision to move London and parts of its home countries into the higher range of restrictions.
They warned that closings of pubs, bars and restaurants in the last two weeks of the year would wipe £ 2.7 billion from London's economy as trading in the capital ceases at what is usually the busiest time.
They called for an urgent hospitality sector support package to help companies survive into the new year.
It came when Londoners started drinking early in pubs all over the capital before the city dips into Tier 3 tonight.
Some companies in town were selling pints for as little as 99p when they tried to get rid of their stocks within hours of closing.
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
People enjoyed a drink outside a pub in London's West End last night after it was announced that the capital and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will be subject to Tier 3 restrictions from Wednesday
People had one of their last chances to have dinner in the capital last night before tighter restrictions go into effect. Pictured: people outside a restaurant in the West End of London last night
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, an increase of more than a third from last Monday's total.
- The death toll on Monday was 232 – 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-backed 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 for restricted trading, and just a few weeks before Christmas.
All of London will be slammed 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. Pictured: Wetherspoons Pub in South West London
Unused shares must be poured away when not in use. This leads to companies offering discounted pints. Pictured: Wetherspoons Pub in South West London
Drinkere were spotted at this Wetherspoons pub in southwest London around 10:30 am
The pub offers beers to drinkers for only 99p to sell unused stocks
Industry insiders called the minimal pre-closure notification "catastrophic" and a "shocking way of treating customs officers".
They stressed that the last minute notification would have a "devastating" impact on businesses. Pictured: Wetherspoons Pub in South West London
“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 before 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 effect 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 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: & # 39; The business impact of this shutdown is absolutely 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
People are unable to socialize under the new indoor restrictions and restaurants like this one in London's Soho district, pictured last night, are forced to close
& # 39; The impact is both immediate and severe for those businesses that are forced to close, and the impact will continue to affect larger businesses in the long term.
Kate Nicholls, UK Hospitality Manager, called for an urgent package of support for businesses that had to close due to the Tier 3 shutdown
& # 39; For the companies directly affected, £ 2.7 billion will be withdrawn from the London economy in the last two weeks of December.
& # 39; 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.
"In addition, 160,000 jobs are directly 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.
Industry experts also criticized the number of shoppers squeezed onto the streets before Christmas.
Mr Mulholland said the hospitality industry bears the brunt of the restrictions despite being heavily regulated, unlike high streets and malls.
He said: "The customs officers and their families are very upset that the government is allowing – and even encouraging – 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 ridicule support in response. & # 39;
A spike in infections means London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will be placed under Tier 3 curbs starting tonight
He added: “We need to have adequate support, the government cannot continue to treat pubs the way they do without proper support.
“The evidence-based decision they make is extremely questionable, worn out indeed.
“Now that you've made this devastating decision, you still need to work out an appropriate support package for all of the Tier 3 areas.
What are the Tier 3 rules?
- Indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas, theaters and bowling alleys must be closed.
- Pubs, restaurants and cafes must be closed except for takeout.
- Shops, hairdressers and salons can remain open;
- Groups of six people are only allowed to meet outdoors.
- Crowds at live events are prohibited.
- People should avoid traveling into or out of Tier 3 areas unless it is inevitable.
- People from separate households cannot meet inside and the rule of six applies outside.
"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 comprehensive package of assistance to help businesses facing difficulties in the face of the closure.
She called on the government to extend vacation rates for businesses through 2022 and 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 enable 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."
Emma McClarkin, executive director of the British Beer & Pub Association, called it "another nail in the coffin" for pubs.
She said: “It could completely destroy many pubs in London and parts of Hertfordshire and Essex [and] it is cruel for diligent tax collectors to do whatever they can to support their communities and invest in implementing all necessary security measures.
& # 39; It is not fair that pubs in London and other parts of England receive four times less funding than pubs in Wales. Especially since pubs in London are the most expensive to run.
"Brewers and the broader supply chain companies also need support as an important trading channel closes overnight."