Less than 12 weeks after hospitality businesses were allowed to reopen their doors to the public, the industry has been dealt a devastating blow as they were ordered to close their doors for 10pm, putting many venues in a worse situation than during the original lockdown.
By enforcing 10pm closures across bars, pubs and restaurants, venues across the UK say the government is causing them to lose multiple hours of trade every day, with some of the worst hit losing over 40 hours a week.
At a time when many bars and restaurants are already operating at a reduced capacity, they worry that the curfew could be the final nail in the coffin.
Today, a group of hospitality professionals from all over the country are unveiling their #CANCELTHECURFEW campaign to attempt to raise awareness among consumers of the impact that the policy is having on their industry.
Their hope is to pressure the government to U-turn on what they believe is a ruinous policy.
Venues are reporting a drop in revenue of over 60% since curfew was imposed, and it’s expected to cost the industry £5.5million per day in central London alone.
But does the measure help stop the spread of the virus? Latest figures from PHE show that only 3% of transmissions outside of the home are from the hospitality sector.
Meanwhile, social media was full of videos of the “unexpected consequences” of the curfew, showing crowded streets and public transport. There is a worry that this could have the opposite effect, and actually increase the spread.
And recent research by hospitality experts CGA show that people are more likely to socialise in other people’s homes as a consequence of venues shutting early.
“With neither evidence to support the assumption that hospitality is driving infection – only 35 cases reported in the sector and as of yet no sign of the threatened dramatic upturn in deaths, the move to curtail the operational hours of our already crippled industry seems unjust and punitive, not to mention illogical and irrational,” says Michael Greenhow of late-night Manchester bar Mojo, who have gone as far as to say that venues should not serve MPs until they offer the support the industry needs.
“Are people more infectious after 10pm? Hospitality has slaved to work responsibly within the constraints laid out for us and now we are being thrown aside with scant concern for the impact these measures will have on our businesses and the wider economy.”
We call on our friends in pubs & restaurants across the country to join us in putting all the member of parliament on notice. Until they release our industry to trade/provide us with viable financial support, we will not serve them. #cancelthecurfew pic.twitter.com/pkbgkulOzn
— MOJO Manchester (@MOJOMANCHESTER) September 28, 2020
Tom Lord, founder of Hospitality Gin and hospitality consultant, agrees.
“The industry that we love is in grave danger of being suffocated by this curfew,” he says.
“Some venues were starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel before it was announced as customers returned and we all settled into ‘the new normal‘. Now we’ve been plunged back into uncertainty.
“We want the British public to know the impact that the curfew is going to have, not just on our businesses, but on our friends and colleagues. We have borne the brunt of the measures announced over the past fortnight.
“We are vilified as breeding grounds for the virus, yet Public Health England’s own figures show this is not true. In fact, the latest figures show that we have one of the lowest infection rates outside of the home.
“Hundreds of thousands of people will lose their jobs as a direct result of this disastrous policy, thousands of businesses will close their doors forever, and the hospitality industry will never be the same again.
“Stop blaming hospitality, let us serve.”
Other Manchester hospitality professionals and operators across the city have added their voice to the campaign.
“We @NRBManchester will be putting our weight – a reach of well over 40k individuals across the North – behind this,” tweeted Thom Hetherington, CEO of the Northern Restaurant & Bar exhibition.
“I hope everyone in, or supportive of, the hospitality industry will do likewise. We can’t be sacrificial lambs destroyed by baseless policies. #cancelthecurfew.”
Night Time Economy Adviser Sacha Lord tweeted that: “It’s very clear, across the UK, that this ill thought out 10pm curfew, has pushed everyone out of venues with socially distanced measures, into the streets, into off licenses, supermarkets, over crowded public transport and house parties. Every operator predicted this. Shambolic.”
Meanwhile Manchester restaurateur Simon Wood tweeted that the curfew affects his staff as well as his business.
“I keep my staff safe all day @WoodRestaurants wearing PPE, Sanitiser, Hand Washes, we adhere to social distance we play by the rules…. Only for their shifts to all end at 10pm and then they have to battle their way home through crowds of people. It’s not right,” he said.
The movement starts this week by asking hospitality leaders, operators, employees, and anyone with a love for the hospitality industry to share the #CANCELTHECURFEW images on their social media platforms.
They are then following up with a silent protest and social media “thunderclap” at 10pm on Saturday 3rd October, with venues and workers all over the country standing outside their venues and posting images of this on their social media.
It is hoped that the movement will be as successful as the recent #NOMORENOSHOWS campaign, which encouraged the public to let restaurants know if they were no longer able to honour their reservation so that the table could be offered to someone else.