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Covid curfew leaves pubs devastated

All venues must be closed by 10pm to comply with new coronavirus rules

25 September, 2020 — By Dan Carrier

Stuart Langley, manager of the Dartmouth Arms, in happier times

PUB landlords and restaurant owners hit by a new 10pm curfew say their businesses could be left devastated.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the measure as part of a package of new rules which the government says will help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

He warned that the rule could be in place for as long as six months. But Stuart Langley, who runs the Dartmouth Arms in Dartmouth Park, said: “It is a fundamental change to how we trade and seems to be more about sending a political message than reacting to the reality of the situation. It feels completely arbitrary.” He estimates the loss of trading hours over a seven-day period equates to at least one full time job.

He added: “Because people have to be off the premises by 10pm, we have to start calling last orders just after 9pm. This cuts out late dining guests and a good portion of drinks sales.”

Pubs have already faced weeks of enforced closure this year, followed by new limits and rules when they were permitted to reopen Brewers Greene King who own the Black Lion and The Railway in West Hampstead, The Vine and Assembly House in Kentish Town, The North London Tavern in Kilburn and The George in Belsize Park have also raised concerns.

Chief executive Nick Mackenzie said: “These restrictions are a significant setback. We urgently need the government to extend the furlough scheme and confirm additional support to protect jobs. We made safety our priority when reopening and fewer than 1 per cent of our 1,700 pubs have been contacted by test and trace since reopening in July.

“It demonstrates pubs are not disproportionately spreading cases and our measures are working.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson gets ready for another TV broadcast to the nation

Others in the dining out trade say it has not been made clear how the virus will stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Andre Millodot, who runs the Wet Fish Cafe on West End Lane, West Hampstead, said: “We have found many are coming to us earlier. People want to stay local – at the moment we are closing at 10pm. We do not see how an enforced curfew for others would make the difference.”

Meanwhile, Fozor Ali, who runs the Monsoon curry house in Dartmouth Park, said: “We do a lot of deliveries – but eating here after 10pm, when people are on their way home from the pub, is important. We just don’t see the benefit of this partial lock down.”

A Number 10 spokesman said: “No one underestimates the challenges the new measures will pose to many individuals and businesses. “We know this won’t be easy, but we must take further action to control the resurgence in cases of the virus and protect the NHS.”

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