As London emerges from the second lockdown there are tentative signs that life is returning to the City.
London today entered Tier 2, representing a slight easing of lockdown restrictions, just as news of the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine approval landed in the Square Mile.
City leaders breathe a sigh of relief
Gyms, barbers and beauty salons are now open and non-essential retail has opened up again meaning Londoners can do their Christmas shopping in person.
City of London Corporation chair Catherine McGuinness welcomed the decision to place the capital in the middle of the three-tier system, but urged ministers to set out a clear strategy for revitalising businesses in the City.
“Many businesses across London and the Square Mile will be breathing a collective sigh of relief now that they will be able to trade in the run up to Christmas as a result of this decision,” she said.
The Lord Mayor of London has urged Londoners to “support local businesses safely where possible during the festive period, and the difficult months ahead” particularly ahead of Small Business Saturday this weekend.
The capital’s pubs and restaurants can once again welcome customers and there has been a change to closing time: instead of a 10pm curfew, it will be last orders by 10pm and everybody out by 11pm.
Different households cannot mix indoors but there are plenty of places in London to eat outdoors, including the Skylight Rooftop igloos and The Mandrake’s cabanas.
London’s pubs and restaurants can only serve alcohol with a “substantial meal” although what constitutes “substantial” is yet to be confirmed.
Business lunches allowed
Most importantly the Government confirmed to City A.M. that business lunches are permitted inside despite Tier 2 restrictions, although this does not stretch to traditional office Christmas meals.
Guidance stipulates that individuals in Tier 2 and 3 areas should not meet socially in any indoor setting unless you live with them or form a support bubble.
But essential business lunches in indoor settings are allowed, which is a welcome boost for the capital’s entrepreneurs, lobbyists and restaurateurs.
Business people will still have to enjoy a “substantial” meal if they wish to drink alcohol.
Get into the Christmas spirit
There are plenty of Christmas events going ahead now London is in Tier 2. The Aldgate in Winter events are returning for their fourth year, albeit mostly online, but the local light exhibition will remain open.
Selfridges Christmas Market is also making a comeback with the reopening of its flagship Oxford Street store, and extending its outdoor Christmas market.
The Hackney Christmas Market is also making a comeback while Peckham’s festive market is back for its nine-day residence at the Copeland Gallery.
For tourists tempted by London’s festive offerings, hotel group Yotel has today announced its “Unlock 2.0” rate to entice people back to the City.
It is offering cabins in central London for the reduced price of £50 per night when booked for a minimum two-night stay.
Panto season has been saved under Tier 2 as theatres welcome guests back, although attendance is capped at 2,000 people outdoors and 1,000 for indoor performances.
For football fanatics there is good news too. London’s Premier League clubs will be allowed to have up to 2,000 fans attend matches, under capacity restrictions for live entertainment in Tier 2.