alex kratena

Tayer + Elementary's Alex Kratena

UK bars outraged by new restrictions on hospitality

22 September, 2020

UK bar owners have lashed back at the introduction of a 10pm curfew by the British government on 22 September.

Owners and operators of some of the country’s top bars have described the initiative, which has been introduced to control the outbreak of Covid-19, as “irresponsible” and a “travesty” for the industry.

Monica Berg of London’s Tayēr + Elementary said: "The fact is, we are being penalised for the government's weakness and lack of ability. We could have been a great ally, instead we are being blamed for something we did not cause.

“This is just another example how our government should not be where they are, and unfortunately we are the ones paying the price. 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.”

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The 10pm curfew for hospitality venues in England, due to be announced by the Prime Minister this evening and enforced from Thursday, is a heavy blow to an ailing industry. Continuing its strategy of maximum contradiction, in the space of months the Government has closed hospitality venues, encouraged, then restricted their custom. The latest policy – coupled with the more understandable mandate of table service – is arbitrary and unsophisticated. The curfew is justified as “in line with the latest scientific advice”, but it is difficult to see how the virus is any more contagious in compliant venues at one time over another. Instead of policing venues who fail to comply with distancing rules, the Government has punished an entire industry. With venues – controlled environments - closing simultaneously across cities, there couldn’t be a better way to trigger a mass outbreak of house parties. Restaurants and pubs will be hit, but none harder than the late-night bar, for which 10pm is peak operation. This is akin to telling a restaurant it can’t open for dinner; a café it’s closed for lunch. With this restriction on trade lasting up to six months, Government support will be critical to bars’ survival this autumn and winter.

A post shared by Hamish Smith (@hamishssmith) on Sep 22, 2020 at 1:23am PDT

Berg's business partner Alex Kratena added: "The government failed to deliver functioning testing and track and trace and instead is putting thousands of businesses at risk and hundreds of thousands livelihoods will be lost. Hospitality must not be punished for failures of this government."

The new restrictions put in place by Boris Johnson’s government include the closure of bars at 10pm and the mandatory implementation of table service.

Deano Moncrieffe of London’s Hacha added: “It’s a total disaster, just as we were starting to recover. We can’t even plan ahead for Christmas which is obviously the busiest time of year, we can’t take group bookings and now we can’t open 10-11pm when we usually make most of our money.

“Now is the time we really need Eat Out to Help Out more than ever to help offset the financial lost from reduced hours of operating.”

The Eat Out to Help Out scheme was launched in the UK in August to give a much needed boost the hospitality industry, but the latest restrictions are expected to have serious consequences for some of the best known bars in the country.

Andy Kerr, The Umbrella Project, added: “As a late night bar group who take the majority of our revenue between 9pm-1am, this is a travesty for us. 

“We’ve been following distancing and hygiene guidelines extremely closely and don’t deserve to be penalised. Our Bethnal Green venue has existed since 1851 but this could be the end for us and it’ll get turned in to more luxury flats that locals can’t afford.”

Max Venning, Three Sheets and Top Cuvèe, concluded: “It’s another big hurdle for hospitality to try and get over. We have to adapt again and try and make it work but it’s becoming increasingly difficult without support.

“To tell people to avoid public places but not tell venues to shut fits with the government's attitude of washing their hands of responsibility over our industry.”

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