Pubs and bars in the Liverpool City Region will be told to close this Wednesday, as the city moves into the highest tier of the government’s local lockdown measures.
Confirming a new three-tier lockdown system, the prime minister has said pubs, bars and betting shops will close on Merseyside, with the area under the new ‘very high alert’ level.
Restaurants were not listed among the businesses that will be told to close. Food-based pubs will be allowed to remain open alongside restaurants, which means that pubs and restaurants cannot serve alcohol unless a customer purchases a meal.
The new structure operates on a three-tier basis. The ‘medium alert’ level, which will cover most of the country and consists of current national measures, including the rule of six and the 10pm curfew for hospitality venues.
The ‘high alert’ level aims to reduce household transmission by preventing all indoor mixing between different households or support bubbles. The majority of areas already subject to local restrictions will automatically move into the high alert level.
Areas in the very high level will see social mixing prohibited indoors and in private gardens. As seen with Liverpool, Boris Johnson has confirmed that pubs and bars will also be closed in those areas.
The prime minister reiterated that the government will cover two-thirds of the wages for employees of businesses forced to close by virus restrictions.
Lack of business support
Commenting on today’s announcement, UKHospitality has warned of a lack of support for hospitality businesses in the top two tiers.
“The impact of all of these restrictions is huge and we are quickly reaching the point of no return for many businesses,” says UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls. “For those businesses in tier three areas, forced to close their doors again, things look bleak but the support announced last week for closed businesses will hopefully give them the breathing room they need to survive another lockdown.
“There is currently a concerning lack of support on offer for hospitality businesses in tier two, and to a lesser extent tier one, despite their facing restrictions that is seeing trade down by between 40% to 60%. They will have the worst of both worlds, operating under significant restrictions without the financial support on offer to tier three businesses. Without enhanced grant support and enhanced government contributions to the Job Support Scheme, many are going to fall by the wayside.
“It is time for the government, at the very least, to rethink the mandatory 10pm curfew in those areas where Covid rates are low. It was imposed without credible evidence that hospitality is the source of increases in transmission, while some evidence points the other way. To leave hospitality out to dry would be a grave and risky move and would cost many people their jobs.”