The head of restaurant group D&D London has slammed the new government Covid restrictions, calling them a “disaster” and a “kick in the teeth” for the hospitality sector.
Des Gunewardena writes in an exclusive column for City A.M. that the government is failing to back up its new regulations, which place tough restrictions on bars and restaurants, with relevant data. The hospitality sector lags far behind schools, universities, supermarkets and offices for Covid transmissions, but are subject to some of the strictest rules under the new three tier system.
Gunewardena also revealed that after serving more than 700,000 customers, he has not had a single Covid case linked to his restaurtants by the government’s NHS Track and Trace app.
“Pubs and restaurants are paying a stratospheric price for the government’s failure to deal effectively with the virus,” he writes. He instead calls for a “measured but decent December”, allowing mixed households to mix under the “rule of six”. He also called for VAT and business rates relief to be extended until the end of 2021 and for the government to intervene with unpaid rents.
“Much of the industry will not survive,” he said. “Those that remain are vital in rebuilding the economy post-Covid. Pubs and restaurants are a major employer mostly of young people. They are also hugely important in the massive task ahead of revitalising our currently moribund city centres.”
Under the new three tier system, pubs and restaurants will be allowed to welcome mixed-household groups of up to six when an area is in Tier 1. In Tier 2 only groups from household bubbles will be allowed to meet and they will have to order a “substantial meal” to be served alcohol. Areas in the strictest Tier 3 areas will be subject to a form of local lockdown in which bars and restaurants can only serve takeaway food and drink.
The sector was however given a boost by the announcement that customers will now have an hour to drink up between last orders at 10pm and kicking out time at 11pm.