Millions of pounds worth of food could go to waste as a result of the government’s decision to send London into Tier 3 at midnight tonight.
In Tier 3 all bars and restaurants will be forced to close, although they are able to offer take-away and delivery services.
Restaurateurs say the rug has been pulled from beneath them as they prepared for the busiest week of the year.
In Tier 2 household groups of fewer than six were able to eat together in restaurants and even drink in bars, provided the alcohol was accompanied by a “substantial meal”.
After the November lockdown, several restaurateurs told City A.M. bookings were healthy, with some restaurants fully booked in the run-up to Christmas. Now many will struggle to shift their seasonal produce, especially City-based and central London restaurants, which tend to see less take-away business.
“The amount of food going to waste as a result of the lack of warning we’ve had is devastating,” says Tom Warren, founder of Wild by Tart.
David Moore, owner of Pied à Terre, echoed the sentiment, telling City A.M.: “Thousands of pounds worth of food and drink will go to waste as fridges full of food are emptied.”
Restaurants now face the prospect of giving their food away or throwing it in the bin. M and Gaucho owner Rare Restaurants also has “thousands of pounds” worth of food going to waste. It is now working with charity Only A Pavement Away to distribute its surplus food to the homeless.
Chefs across London reacted with dismay to the news today, with Pied à Terre’s Moore saying “I just feel like crying”. There have been calls across the sector for the introduction of a new hospitality minister to help steer the industry through its biggest crisis since World War 2.
Industry bodies warn there is a ticking time bomb on the horizon when the moratorium on rent enforcement is eased at the end of March.