What about pubs outside of England?
Different rules apply to the other nations of the United Kingdom.
Scotland operates under a five-level system of local restrictions. In the highest level, 4, non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants must shut. In Level 3 areas, which now includes areas such as Glasgow, hospitality businesses are banned from selling alcohol and must close by 6pm.
If you are resident in Wales, you can go to a Welsh pub or restaurant with up to three other people from different households, excluding children aged under 11, but they must close at 6pm and you will not be served alcohol from Friday, 4 December. The new rules were introduced following a rise in cases in the country.
Pubs, bars and restaurants in Northern Ireland which serve food are now allowed to reopen following the circuit breaker lockdown, which was reintroduced at the end of November. Hospitality venues which do not serve food can only provide takeaway services under the new rules, and off sales must stop at 10:30pm.
What does this mean for the hospitality industry – and for Christmas?
The Prime Minister recently apologised for what he called “the unavoidable hardship” experienced by workers in the hospitality industry, but said the ‘Covid winter plan’ aims to allow a loosening of restrictions for Christmas, in order for three households to meet for five days.
The measures – which are significantly tougher than under the previous tier system – were described as “catastrophic” by pub chiefs on November 22, with a warning that one million jobs are now on the line.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, said the news is “far worse than anyone could have anticipated”. If the tiers had stayed as they were until March, she said, “we were already expecting 94 per cent of businesses in Tier 3 and 74 per cent of businesses in Tier 2 to go to the wall. Now we have restrictions that are even worse.
“This will have a catastrophic effect on a large number of businesses and all those jobs that were furloughed will now be lost. You are talking about the prospect of a million job losses and 30 to 40,000 premises closing their doors for good. This a cruel decision and it just feels as if the whole sector is being thrown to the wolves.”
On December 1, Conservative MP Christian Wakeford suggested the rules regarding a substantial meal are only undermining valuable restrictions that could “actually make a difference”. The Bury South MP argued that ministers are “shafting” businesses in Tier 2, while those Tier 3 are “dead”. Mr Wakeford also said that more needs to be done to help the hospitality sector and that the restrictions have left him “struggling” to support his Government.
The tier restrictions are expected to be reviewed on December 16, and areas which make progress in slowing the spread of the virus could still be moved down a tier before Christmas.
But there will be no relaxation of the rules on pubs and restaurants, meaning hospitality venues in the new Tier 3 will remain shut.