Defiant drinkers have packed into London’s bars and restaurants on day one of the capital’s new Tier 2 lockdown after normally-bustling streets stood deserted earlier in the day.
Restaurants in Covent Garden which would normally be busy with visitors lay empty this afternoon due new restrictions brought in to stop the rise in coronavirus cases – as it was revealed revenue has fallen in central London pubs and restaurants by 85 per cent.
But a nightime resurgence has seen revellers stream into Borough Market and Soho for a night of drinking – even if the new restrictions mean they have to sit outside if joined by members of other households.
London has been placed under Tier 2 level restrictions following a rapid rise of infections in many boroughs in the city, meaning meeting people who live in other households indoors is banned.
Some 16,171 coronavirus cases were recorded in the UK on Saturday, with another 150 deaths announced.
Venues can continue to operate but pubs and restaurants must ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and they must close at 10pm.
Industry bosses have warned 200,000 London hospitality workers will lose their jobs this weekend alone as businesses close their doors.
Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UKHospitality, said the industry’s worst fears were confirmed as cancellations soared and revenues slumped dramatically.
Ms Nicholls said that revenue across bars and restaurants in central London plunged by 85 per cent as less people took to venues under new restrictions.
She said: ‘The first day of Tier 2 restrictions saw the hospitality sector’s worst fears confirmed with a 50% increase in cancellations and a fall in forward bookings.
‘Venues across the capital saw significantly reduced footfall meaning revenues slumped by 85% in central London.’
In other developments:
- Police fought to enforce coronavirus laws in London last night as they faced defiance from both protesters and drinkers refusing to go home;
- Mr Johnson said the UK is developing the capacity to manufacture millions of fast turnaround tests for coronavirus which could deliver results in just 15 minutes;
- The National Education Union rowed in behind Sir Keir Starmer’s call for a national circuit-breaker to get infections down;
- The Welsh Government were to meet to discuss a circuit-breaker lockdown and will announce any decisions on Monday;
- Some 16,171 coronavirus cases were recorded in the UK on Saturday, alongside 150 deaths;
- A senior scientist predicted Britain could be carrying out a million coronavirus tests a day by Christmas;
- The Prime Minister’s attention briefly switched from the pandemic to warn a No Deal Brexit was likely as both London and Brussels ramped up their tough talk.
A busy borough market with plenty of drinkers after a quiet day on the streets of London on the first day of Tier 2 restrictions across the capital
Drinkers queued at the entrance to a pub in Borough Market as revellers took to central London to enjoy a night of drinking despite the restrictions
Tables were filled in Borough Market as people donned coats and scarves in order to sit outside with members of other households in London today
It was barely possible to maintain social distancing in Chinatown, London, earlier today as the first day of Tier Two restrictions failed to keep people at home
Under the new guidelines individuals from different households in London, Essex, York and parts of Derbyshire, will be banned from mixing indoors, even in hospitality venues. Pictured, people enjoy a drink in borough market
Ms Nicholls added: ‘That is clearly unsustainable and businesses in London are now planning to close their doors and shutter their sites, with forecasts of up to 200,000 job losses unless enhanced JSS is extended.’
Ms Nicholls has pushed for the ‘job support scheme’, which requires employers to cough up 55 per cent of staff wages, to waive employer contributions and called for a tier-3 style funding for all hospitality in which venues hit by closures can get £3,000 grants.
Under the new guidelines individuals from different households in London, Essex, York and parts of Derbyshire, will be banned from mixing indoors, even in hospitality venues.
Outdoor socially distanced mingling is permitted for groups of up to six, meaning people from different households will be required to meet in beer gardens or at restaurants with outdoor seating.
Drinkers outside a pub in Soho, London, on the first day after the city was put into Tier 2 restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus
Tables were filled with drinkers at this pub in borough market on Saturday night. Restrictions stopping multiple households meeting up indoors didn’t stop many from heading out
Tables were filled and hopefulls queued up at the door as people swarmed across borough market in London on Saturday
People were placed at a social distance from each other at the pub terrace in borough market amid a rise in coronavirus cases in the capital
An outdoor food stand in borough market had plenty of business on Saturday night as Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UK Hospitality, warned revenue across bars and restaurants in central London has plunged by 85 per cent
People enjoyed a meal out with friends on Saturday night instead of letting Tier 2 restrictions put a dampener on their plans
Venues were packed with drinkers in borough market on Saturday night despite the heightened level of restrictions
Ms Nicholls said: ‘Being moved into tier 2 is a curse for businesses. They will be trapped in a no man’s land of being open, but with severe restrictions that will significantly hit custom, all while unable to access the job support available in tier 3. It is the worst of both worlds for businesses.
‘Venues in London have already taken a hit due to the dip in inbound tourism and with people increasingly working from home.
‘A move into tier 2 will now be catastrophic for some of them and it is only going to be made worse by the end of the furlough scheme in under two weeks.’
Soho, famous for its thriving nightlife, was pedestrianised when the national lockdown started to lift at the start of summer so its eateries and bars could set tables up in the street.
Some said they had seen a slight drop in customer numbers compared to last weekend, but said it could be down to the falling temperatures rather than the latest measures.
One member of staff, who asked not to be named, at the at the Greyhounds Pub on Greek Street said he now had to ask everyone sitting inside if they came from the same household.
‘I ask them but it’s just not practical, I have no way of checking unless I ask everyone to give me their address,’ he said.
A waiter at L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele on Old Compton Street said they could no longer take bookings as a result of the changes, and relied on walk-ins.
Despite that, Marcelo Teixeira Moraes, 24, said the restaurant had been at its ‘busiest for months’ on Friday.
‘People were grabbing the chance to go out all together while they could, it was so busy I couldn’t keep up,’ he said.
Door staff at Comptons, a nearby pub, said they were also having to rely on people’s honesty when it came to making sure customers sitting inside were all from the same household.
One member of staff said they had been very lucky so far in terms of customer numbers, but were worried about what would happen when the weather turned colder.
Earlier in the day, anti-lockdown protesters marched down Oxford Street before congregating in nearby Leicester Square to demonstrate against the restrictions.
Led by Piers Corbyn, brother of former Labour leader Jeremy, protesters yelled at passers by to remove their masks, and telling them any Covid-19 vaccine would be ‘poison’.
Almost a third of restaurants and pubs in England will be affected by the tougher tier curbs introduced – more than 8,500 venues and 5,000 pubs
Restaurants in Covent Garden which would normally be packed with visitors lie empty due new restrictions brought in to stop the rise in coronavirus cases
Restaurants in Covent Garden would normally be packed with visitors (pictured) before the Tier 2 restrictions meaning people from different households can’t meet indoors
Busy bars and restaurants in the capital had already seen restrictions like the 10pm curfew before Tier 2 was introduced
Many of those on the march headed to Soho’s pubs at the end of the demo.
On Friday revellers made the most of their final night out over the weekend and descended onto London’s streets to enjoy bars and restaurants before the restrictions came in at midnight.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman revealed one person was arrested ‘for being drunk and disorderly’ as pubs closed in Soho at 10pm.
They said: ‘Police were deployed in town centres across London on the night of Friday, October 16, including in Soho to reassure the public and ensure compliance with the COVID regulations.
Wetherspoon boss blasts 10pm curfew after chain suffers £105million loss
By Mark Duell for MailOnline
Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin today renewed his attack on the Government after the pub chain suffered a £105million loss following a 30 per cent drop in sales.
Mr Martin said it was unfair that pubs have been treated harsher than supermarkets as he revealed sales fell from £1.82billion to £1.26billion in the year to July 26, 2020.
Publishing the company’s delayed results, he added that the UK should adopt the Swedish model for pandemics to allow his pubs to open again properly, a system which he said ’emphasises social distancing, hygiene and trust in the people’.
The company also announced a further 108 job cuts at its head office, having already said it would cut up to 130 jobs at its HQ and up to 450 at airport concessions.
Mr Martin, quoting businessman Warren Buffett from 1989, said governments across the world have based their lockdown decisions on ‘deeply flawed analysis’.
He claimed Swedish Professor Johan Giesecke is the epidemiologist equivalent and the UK should follow his lead, which would allow Wetherspoon to reopen pubs.
‘A gathering did form in Soho and officers sought to disperse the crowd in accordance with the regulations. One person was arrested for being drunk and disorderly. One other person was issued a dispersal order and directed away from the area. The crowd was dispersed by 22.25pm.’
Almost a third of restaurants and pubs in England will be affected by the tougher tier curbs introduced – more than 8,500 venues and 5,000 pubs.
Pubs which serve very little food are expected to have suffered the most through the pandemic so far, due to not having benefitted from the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme which saw a cut on food VAT.
Industry bosses previously estimated 300,000 hospitality jobs would be lost in the absence of an industry bailout by government.
But Ms Nicholls prediction of 200,000 jobs to be lost in central London this weekend alone means the total could be much higher.
This comes as Britain recorded its highest number of coronavirus deaths in four months after another 150 victims were announced today.
Department of Health statistics show the grim milestone hasn’t been reached since June 10 when 164 lab-confirmed coronavirus deaths were announced.
It is also a surge of 85 per cent compared to last Saturday, when 81 deaths were registered, and a rise of 16 from yesterday’s toll of 136 victims.
Health chiefs today posted another 16,171 cases, up only six per cent on the figure recorded last Saturday (15,166), in a sign that the UK’s coronavirus outbreak may be beginning to slow.
As many as 15,650 more positive tests were added to the tally yesterday.
Although still rising, the number of deaths from the virus remains miles off the levels seen at the height of the pandemic when more than 1,000 were being registered every day at the beginning of April.
The Prime Minister unveiled the new coronavirus three-tier lockdown system on Monday.
Liverpool was immediately put into Tier 3, the highest level, with Manchester, Newcastle and Birmingham among cities being ranked as Tier 2, or ‘high’ risk.
Coronavirus positive tests in London have increased dramatically since the beginning of September but changes in recent weeks suggest the rate of rise is slowing down, with a 37 per cent increase in the seven days to October 7, compared to the almost double 84 per cent in the third week of September
Some 136 deaths were recorded yesterday, but scientists have warned this could rise to 690 by the end of the month
Tier 1 restrictions, which the majority of England has been placed under, are believed to mirror the rules currently in place across the country.
It includes the rule of six, a 10pm curfew, group sport to be played outdoors only and a maximum of 15 guests at wedding ceremonies.
Under Tier 2 restrictions, households are also banned from meeting indoors, even in hospitality venues.
Two households are allowed to socialise outdoors but must stay within the six-person limit and adhere to social distancing.
The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police today vowed to police ‘without fear or favour’ amid a political row between Downing Street and local leaders
Under these regulations, residents are not banned from travelling to a Tier 1 area, but are advised to minimise the number of journeys they make.
Draconian Tier 3 regulations have seen restaurants close at 10pm, pubs and bars being ordered to close and households have been banned from mixing indoors or outdoors.
Locals are advised to only leave their areas for essential travel, including work and education, and overnight stays outside of ‘high’ risk areas are banned.
It comes as the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police vowed to police ‘without fear or favour’ amid a political row between Downing Street and local leaders over tougher coronavirus measures.
In an open letter, Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said that while he is ‘accountable’ to Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, he is ‘operationally independent’.
It follows reports that the Government has not imposed Tier 3 measures on the region over fears police would not enforce them without the backing of Mr Burnham.
Political leaders in the region have so far refused to accept the highest level of restrictions without greater financial support for businesses and residents.
Mr Hopkins wrote: ‘All officers and staff in Greater Manchester Police are accountable to me as Chief Constable. We carry out operational policing without fear or favour and in line with the Police Services code of ethics alongside colleagues across the country.’
He added: ‘It is for local and national politicians to agree the necessary restrictions to keep us all safe.
‘As the Chief Constable I will then ensure my officers and staff enforce these in a proportionate manner alongside our local authority partners.’
Mr Hopkins said he has spoken to both the mayor and Home Secretary Priti Patel throughout the pandemic. ‘We are all agreed that there needs to be a proportionate level of enforcement to existing regulations,’ he said, adding he had ‘support’ from both in relation to the force’s approach.
The Prime Minister tried to increase pressure on Mr Burnham during a Downing Street press conference yesterday, threatening to impose the measures if local leaders did not accept them.
Blackpool’s Big One rollercoaster (pictured today) has remained open despite the the introduction of Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions for Lancashire today
October is traditionally one of the busiest periods for the seaside town as crowds flock to see the Blackpool Illuminations during the school half-term holidays, but B&B owners said the new restrictions are a ‘kick in the teeth’, as guests cancel bookings following the new restrictions
Meanwhile, traffic is still flowing freely across the border from England to Wales on the first day of the supposed travel ban from high-Covid areas.
The ban, which came into force at 6pm on Friday, makes it an offence to travel to Wales from coronavirus hotspots in the UK.
It was described as ‘unenforceable’ by the Police Federation earlier this week and there is still no sign of any high-visibility patrols or roadblocks to deter travel from Merseyside – despite Liverpool being in Tier 3.
Those who ignore the restrictions will be breaking the law and could face fixed penalty notices starting at £50 – but there have so far been no reports of drivers being stopped.
And Blackpool’s Big One rollercoaster, casinos and theme parks have remained open despite the the introduction of Tier Three coronavirus restrictions for Lancashire on Saturday, with guests continuing to pack the town’s streets.
Guests were pictured riding the rollercoaster while wearing face masks, as others continued to enjoy the seaside town’s Blackpool Pleasure Beach despite Lancashire joining Liverpool as the only area in England in the top tier of coronavirus restrictions.
While some gyms were forced to shut in Liverpool today and the streets of London appeared deserted under new Tier Two regulations, Blackpool was heaving with people enjoying the town’s attractions.
Tier Three restrictions for the ‘very high risk’ category area include harsher restrictions on socialising, with people told not to mix with others in any indoor setting or private garden, as well as in most outdoor hospitality venues.
Despite the packed streets, B&B owners have said the new restrictions are a ‘kick in the teeth’, with guests cancelling bookings following the new restrictions.
They fear the new Covid-19 measures will drive tourists away, despite some of the attractions remaining open.