Just as London’s hospitality venues were getting back into the rhythm of things – indeed, with many only opening their doors again this month – the government today (Tuesday September 22) delivered yet another blow. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that as part of tightening restrictions, England’s restaurants, bars, pubs and other hospitality venues would be hit with a 10pm curfew come Thursday.
Businesses will have to have their doors closed by 10pm, meaning very early last orders for pubs and bars. It’s a crushing defeat for many venues that rely on late-night trade.
‘Bars like ours take 70 percent of the revenue after 10pm – we are already doing 50 percent less business than last year,’ said Alex Kratena, co-owner of top London bar Tayēr + Elementary. ‘We have now been served a death sentence,’ he added.
His fellow co-owner Monica Berg agreed: ‘If this ban is not followed by some sort of protective measures to help hospitality – this week will be remembered as the moment hospitality died.’
It’s not just bars that are fearful for their futures. The new measures strip out the opportunity for a whole late dinner sitting for many London restaurants, with tables now likely to be available no later than 8.30pm in order to meet closing time in line with new law. Gregory Marchand, the chef-owner of Frenchie restaurant in Covent Garden described the new measures as ‘total madness,’ adding: ‘Our business relies heavily on bookings made around and after 8pm, so this will inevitably affect our trade.’
There are now calls from industry bodies, as well as London’s venues, for government support measures for a hard-hit hospitality sector – especially amid warnings that the latest restrictions could last for a further six months. ‘These restrictions are a further, potentially fatal, blow for many hospitality businesses. In isolation, they may appear moderate, but the cumulative effect is going to be hugely damaging,’ said UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls, who warned that lots of businesses would not survive this latest development.
These London bars are back open – and they need your support more than ever!