Hospitality business owners warn of 'devastating' impact of Tier 3 restrictions

26 November 2020, 14:19 | Updated: 26 November 2020, 14:21

By Megan White

Business owners in Tier 3 areas have warned of the “devastating” impact the new lockdown will have on them, warning it could force dozens of hospitality venues to shut for good.

Swathes of the north were told they would be plunged into the highest tier of restrictions from December 2, closing pubs and restaurants.

Jamie Eastlake, who owns Laurence’s Mexican and Geordie Tapas Bar in Blyth, Northumberland, told LBC he is “gutted” that the area has been put into Tier 3.

Council leaders have condemned the move as a “bitter blow,” with Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham saying restrictions will hit the hospitality sector "extremely hard."

Almost all parts of England will face tough coronavirus curbs with a ban on households mixing indoors and restrictions on hospitality after December 2.

Only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have been placed in the lowest Tier 1 set of restrictions, with people in all other parts of England set to face more serious limits to their freedom.

Large swathes of the Midlands, North East and North West are in the most restrictive Tier 3, but London will be in Tier 2.

Mr Eastlake said he is “not entirely sure” how his business will survive and said others in the area are also feeling the strain.

He told LBC: “I’m not entirely sure how us as a business and similar businesses in this area in the North East are going to survive this.

“We’re still waiting on whether we can get grants from the last time they closed us, we’re just left in the dark basically, just gutted.”

He added: “I woke up feeling sick, actually, really really sick.

“I just kind of knew the North East was going to be left in the lurch again. Gutted is the word.

“My contract’s already sort of been suspended, life in Newcastle, because of what’s happened, so my income’s not there anymore.

“For Laurence’s itself, we’ve been running as a takeaway for the past three weeks.

“We’re doing less takeaways than when we’re open as a restaurant, we’re losing about £2,000 a week – I can’t keep up – and we’re not the only ones.”

Mr Eastlake said he had “spoken to various businesses around the area and no-one knows where to go next.”

He continued: “This place is closing downstairs below us, closed two weeks ago, they’re done.

“There’s a shop just down the road – done.

“I have no idea how places are going to survive this, even with that little week at Christmas, it’s absolutely horrific.

“The fact is we’ve done everything we can to make spaces as safe as possible – we’ve invested in equipment, we chat to everyone who comes in and make sure they scan into the app and what not.

“I don’t know how much more we could have done to prevent this.

Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis said the restrictions are “slowly suffocating businesses.”

Mr Jarvis, who is also Labour MP for Barnsley Central, said: "Lockdown must not become limbo.

"I welcome Government plans to review our tier arrangements every two weeks, because every extra day we are under restrictions could be the difference between a business surviving the pandemic or going under.

"It is now essential we get a roadmap to get us out of Tier 3 as a matter of urgency."

He said: "We need absolute clarity and consistency from the government about the criteria for areas moving between the Tiers. We need a test and trace system that is fit for purpose and we need clear communications

"There is light at the end of the tunnel. In South Yorkshire the rate of new infections, and more importantly the number of older people in hospital with the virus, is moving in the right direction.

"We've been under tighter restrictions in South Yorkshire since October 24, and they are slowly suffocating businesses, particularly in the hospitality and events sectors. They are now being hit again just as they enter their busiest time of year.

Mr Jarvis added: "It's deeply concerning that the government yet again excluded mayors and local leaders from the decision-making process around the new Tiering arrangements."