Pub and restaurant chiefs warn of damage from 10pm curfew plan


A number of chief executives in the hospitality sector have told the Evening Standard of their concerns ahead of looming new lockdown rules that will limit opening hours for businesses.

Pubs and restaurants in England will have a 10pm closing time from Thursday, under restrictions set to be announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as part of efforts to tackle a rise in coronavirus cases.

Johnson will use an address to the nation on Tuesday evening to outline new measures. The hospitality sector will also be limited to table service only.

Pub and restaurant owners first had to shut sites in March for the Covid-19 lockdown, and could open reopen from July, with social distancing in place. A number of operators in central London continue to grapple with weak footfall as office workers and tourists stay away.

Nick Mackenzie, the boss of pubs giant Greene King, today said: “The pub sector is fighting for survival and these new measures will cause further damage and hit our city centre pubs most, especially in London.”

“We urgently need the government to extend the furlough scheme for hospitality venues and confirm what additional support it will provide to protect jobs and the future of the great British pub.”

Patrick Dardis, chief executive of London pubs firm Young’s, said: “It’s not great, but at least we will continue to trade.”

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “As an industry we recognise the need to continue to support the Government and local communities to manage the risk of rising infection rates. Pubs have been adapting to the “new normal” over the past few months and will continue to do so, but we are under no illusions that this will make an already challenging environment even more difficult for our sector. Pubs were struggling to break even before today and these latest restrictions may push some to breaking point.”

Ranjit Mathrani, chairman of MW Eat which is behind the Masala Zone chain, said: “These measures underline the need for urgent action on rent support and an extension of the furlough scheme until March 2021 targeted at the embattled hospitality and other leisure sectors.”

Meg Ellis, commercial director at Honest Burgers, said: “A 10pm curfew will have a greater impact on some types of hospitality businesses over others, but for our sector at large, any suppression of more general consumer confidence as a result of the measures will be our next collective challenge.”

Ellis added: “We’ll continue to search for ways to engage customers safely within the confines of the new restrictions, and hope, in turn, that our government is able to continue to adapt with us to protect as many businesses and livelihoods as possible as we work to navigate the upcoming winter months.”