Mr Johnson unveiled a new 10pm curfew for pubs, restaurants and takeaways, as well as conveying a shift in government messaging regarding working from home.
Jane Imrie

"A kick in the teeth": UK businesses react to new national COVID-19 restrictions

The UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday (September 22) announced the re-introduction of new nationwide restrictions in a bid to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Mr Johnson unveiled a new 10pm curfew for pubs, restaurants and takeaways, as well as conveying a shift in government messaging regarding working from home.

Where workers had previously been encouraged to return to their workplaces, the government has confirmed that people should once again work from home if possible.

Businesses and organisations across the country have reacted to the news, from outlining the impact on the hospitality industry to ushering in a new era of home-working culture.

Dan Jarvis, Mayor of Sheffield City Region

“The PM was right to introduce new restrictions to stem the spread of COVID, yet the government still appears flat-footed and without a credible strategy to overcome the pandemic.

“The absence of a functioning test and trace system, along with patchwork support for the economy, is putting people and businesses further in peril.

“If the Government cannot get a grip on this crisis, then they need to put regional leaders in the driving seat and let us get on with the job – giving us the powers and resources to protect lives, jobs and businesses from further harm.”

Adam Marshall, Director General of BCC

“Businesses understand that further restrictions are necessary to tackle the rising number of coronavirus cases, but these measures will impact business and consumer confidence at a delicate time for the economy.

“Businesses, their employees and customers need to see a clear road map for the existing restrictions and those that may be introduced in the future.

“This must include transparent trigger points, and clarity about the support available to protect jobs and livelihoods.”

“The government should waste no time in setting out a comprehensive support package for firms forced to close or reduce capacity through no fault of their own.”

Chris Combemale, CEO of the Data & Marketing Association (DMA)

“Trading remains extremely difficult for many businesses across the data and marketing industry.

“Despite some revenues gradually returning, we are still nowhere near pre-pandemic levels and many businesses will have difficult decisions to make over the coming months if they are to survive.

“We welcome the government’s approach, which seeks to protect both people’s health and livelihoods, but it is clear that [the] new measures will slow down the recovery and must be balanced with additional support for businesses.”

Tunio Zafer, CEO of pCloud

“What the first lockdown did provide, in effect, was a global trial for remote working, giving businesses a rare opportunity to get remote working and collaboration policies right. Frankly, it’s an opportunity they can’t mess up.

“Despite all the tools at their disposal, simply waiting for the virus to pass isn’t a viable option for businesses.

“The workplace will never be the same again so businesses must consider this an opportunity to implement the right working practices that will see them navigate not only the Coronavirus crisis, but beyond.

“Failure to empower staff, empower seamless working and adopt the right security tools could mean they walk from one disaster into another. Fortunately, there is a growing acceptance now among the C-Suite that remote working is not only possible, but beneficial to their business.

“The very nature of the workplace is going to change, with IT playing a leading role in making this possible.”

Des Gunewardena, CEO and co-founder of D&D London

“A 10pm curfew on our restaurants will be very damaging. Since reopening we have been very reliant on the strength of our weekend business, much of which is later evening.

“This has mitigated the impact of early and midweek business which has been much more challenging with the absence of office workers and tourists.

“Our large West End restaurants such as Quaglino’s and 100 Wardour Street which only reopened a few weeks ago will be particularly hard hit.

“This move is a kick in the teeth for central London and in particular the West End where footfall was gradually starting to increase.

“It is very difficult to understand the logic for this decision. Public Health England’s own statistics clearly indicate that the recent significant increase in Covid infections is in care homes, schools and workplaces. It is NOT in pubs and restaurants.

“In summary we don’t understand the reasoning behind the curfew, and it will seriously set back the recovery of city centre restaurants -particularly those in the West End of London.”

Stuart Procter, COO of The Stafford Collection

“I’m hugely frustrated, angry and concerned about the new 10pm national curfew.

“It’s baffling that the Government would spend £522m on the brilliant EOTHO scheme last month, encouraging the British public to eat out as much as possible, and now we are back to being enemy number one.

“Thanks to the scheme, we’ve taken staff off furlough to cope with the demand of customers - what do we do with them now?

“Once again we’ve seen a huge change of strategy and it’s going to kill off so much of the hospitality industry when we’re proven to be some of the safest businesses in the UK thanks to our new distancing, cleaning and internal tracing measures.”

“As an industry, we had just started to claw our way back from a catastrophic start to 2020, but this will be the nail in the coffin for so many in the hospitality and tourism sector.”

Jack Stein, chef director at Rick Stein Group

“As of today, we are going to have to contact over 900 customers who have reservations in our pub and restaurants to rearrange their bookings which means disappointment for some, many cancellations and more lost revenue for us after months of closure.

“The vast majority of our restaurants are in Cornwall, an area where the infection rate is still very low so it’s difficult to understand the reasoning of a nationwide curfew.

“I think they are right to impose tighter restrictions on areas where there is a dangerously high rate, however that isn’t us, so it’s a tough pill to swallow.

“Once again, we’re relying on the government to take the scientific advice and form policy to minimise a second wave and help us reopen fully as soon as we can.”

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