Hospitality businesses in London and surrounding home counties face new devastating restrictions at the busiest time of the year as the UK Government reacts to a new surge in COVID-19 cases.

Restaurants, bars and clubs which only reopened under new regulations two weeks ago are now facing a new period of restricted trading as the virus continues to spread.

Business leaders have warned that thousands of jobs are at risk because of the government’s “illogical” decision to close pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels across London in response to surging coronavirus cases reports The Guardian.

In a move described as “another nail in the coffin” by the UK pubs’ trade body, at least 15,489 venues in the capital, as well as parts of Essex and Hertfordshire, will be moved into tier 3 from Wednesday December 16.

They will join a list of 35,742 that are already effectively closed in areas such as Greater Manchester, Kent, the east Midlands and parts of Yorkshire. The change means more than 53 percent of English hospitality venues will be unable to offer anything except takeaway and delivery.

Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of the trade body UK Hospitality, said: “So many pubs, restaurants, bars, cafes and hotels, having invested so much to make their venues safe, are only just clinging on by the skin of their teeth but will be forced to take another huge hit.

“The burden of a region being moved into tier 3 falls almost exclusively on hospitality businesses. It is an illogical tactic that fails to tackle Covid effectively but does push businesses closer towards failure.”

Almost 61% of England’s population, or 34 million people, will be in tier 3 from Wednesday, with 38% in tier 2 and 1.3% in tier 1.

Eddie Curzon, the London director of the business lobby group the CBI, said: “Businesses in London understand that rising infection rates must be controlled, and tougher restrictions are necessary to save lives and protect against longer-term economic scarring.

“However, the financial impact of moving London into tier 3 will be stark. Businesses – particularly those in sectors like retail and hospitality – will have been counting on a festive fillip to help mitigate months of hardship, and further restrictions now will come as a devastating blow. Thousands of jobs and livelihoods could be at risk.

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said 1,250 of London’s 3,680 pubs that remained open under tier 2 rules would now have to close.

The BBPA’s chief executive, Emma McClarkin, said: “Moving into tier 3 is another nail in the coffin for London’s pubs, as well as those affected in parts of Hertfordshire and Essex.

“It could completely destroy many pubs […] who have taken bookings for the lead-up to Christmas and New Year’s Eve if the tiers don’t change before then.”

The BBPA predicted this would put 8,000 jobs at risk, on top of 56,000 already under threat in the capital’s pub sector.

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