The prime minister has confirmed that the three tier system will return when England comes out of lockdown on 3rd December.
Pubs in tier 1 will remain open, pubs in tier 2 will be able to stay open as long as drinkers order substantial meals, and pubs in tier 3 will remain closed, although they will be able to offer take-away.
The 10pm curfew will end. Now, last orders will be called at 10pm with venues to be closed by 11pm.
It will be at least Thursday before regions’ tiers are decided, post lockdown, but Mr Johnson warned: “We expect more regions, at least temporarily, to fall into higher tiers than before.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer pointed out that businesses needed to know which tiers they would be in as soon as possible so they could plan for 3rd December.
The announcement hasn’t gone down well with the hospitality sector. Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “Our sector has been singled out by these new measures which unfairly target pubs. The additional restrictions will destroy our sector if they go ahead as proposed. Whilst the review of curfew is overdue, the relaxation of the 10pm curfew is meaningless if most pubs are rendered unviable or forced to close under tiers 2 and 3.
“We’re calling on the government to provide the evidence behind its decision to single out pubs. The publicly available evidence from Public Health England shows that hospitality has been linked to just 1% of total infections. Our own survey of members, with 22,500 venues across the UK, found just 1% had been linked by NHS test and trace to a covid incident. A recent study by the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking even found that people find pubs amongst the easiest places to adhere to social distancing, more so than many other venues, and socialising within other people’s homes.
“We are genuinely concerned the decision announced today has not taken this evidence into account. Pubs are covid-secure, following all government guidelines, serving to tables, enforcing social distancing, and working hand in hand with NHS test and trace.”
She added: “If these tighter tier restrictions are forced upon us, far more government financial support will be needed to avoid the resulting carnage. In tier 2 alone, the new restrictions will mean 90% of pubs will be unviable and will only be able to operate at a loss. In tier 3, no pub is viable if restricted to take-away only. This will also mean our brewing businesses will be hugely damaged too.
“The current grants are not even enough to cover fixed costs in a pub, and now must compensate for the revenue pubs and breweries will lose as a result of these additional restrictions. Without an enhanced grants package of support for pubs and brewers, thousands of businesses are doomed to fail, destroying thousands of livelihoods and communities across the UK.
“We are asking the government to reconsider their approach and allow pubs to play their vital role in local communities over the festive period, bringing people together safely and providing some much-needed festive cheer this Christmas, and essential trade to keep our locals alive.”