Pubs and bars in toughest Tier 3 measures can only open for delivery and takeaway, Boris Johnson announces

Barney Davis
·5-min read
 (Parliament TV)
(Parliament TV)

Pubs and bars in areas placed into the “tougher” Tier 3 alert level will be able to offer takeaways and delivery only, Boris Johnson has announced.

The Prime Minister has revealed the new three-tier system that will come into force in England after lockdown ends on December 2.

He made an announcement to the Commons via video link from Downing Street where he is self-isolating after being contacted by NHS Test and Trace.

Mr Johnson said the new tiers would be tougher than their predecessors, after Government scientific advisers said the previous regime did not do enough to tackle the virus.

The new rules are expected to last until the spring.

Although the 10pm curfew for hospitality businesses will be relaxed, with last orders at that time before premises are forced to close at 11pm, the industry will face stricter rules than before.

In Tier 2 areas, alcohol may only be served in hospitality settings as part of a substantial meal.

And in the toughest Tier 3, pubs and restaurants will only be able to offer takeaway and delivery services, while indoor entertainment, hotels and other accommodation will close.

Joe Strummer’s favourite pub The Squirrel in Maida Hill, built in the 1870s, was closed for good last night after Westminster council voted for plans to turn it into a pharmacy despite a community campaign.

The planning committee had previously turned down attempts to turn the pub into flats but a new viability report taking into account the effects of Covid-19 claimed it would struggle to make The Squirrel a successful business.

Labour Cllr Tim Roca, for Harrow Road, said the community was frustrated at the closure of the second-last pub in his ward and that a viability report was the 'clincher’.

He told the Standard: "Residents are baffled and angry with Westminster Council’s decision. How can you possibly judge the viability of a community pub during a global pandemic?

"It's unprecedented and makes me very worried not just for the future of all pubs but also other theatres and live music venues."

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, said even going back to Tier 2 — the level that London was at before the lockdown — would have dire consequences.

She said: “This is a Tier 2 that is far more restrictive than previously. Some venues will be forced to close altogether and it will be touch and go whether they ever reopen again.”

Brian Bickell, chief executive of Soho landlord Shaftesbury, said that Tier 3 “would be a disaster but Tier 2 would be bearable but not perfect.”

Campaign for Real Ale National Chairman Nik Antona said: “Pubs continue to be singled out as a scapegoat for the spread of COVID-19 without any compelling evidence to support the claim.

“This is a make-or-break moment for thousands of community pubs that now face measures such as only being allowed to serve alcohol with a substantial meal - without any evidence presented that this measure would help to control the virus. "

Meanwhile, Westminster said winter al fresco dining would be allowed on 40 streets across the West End until the end of April.

Setting out other measures that will be eased as the lockdown lifts, Mr Johnson said: “From next Wednesday people will be able to leave their home for any purpose and meet others in outdoor public spaces, subject to the rule of six, collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume, and shops, personal care, gyms and the wider leisure sector can reopen.

“But without sensible precautions, we would risk the virus escalating into a winter or New Year surge.”

Details of which areas will be in which tiers will be set out on Thursday, Mr Johnson said.

“I’m sorry to say we expect that more regions will fall at least temporarily into higher levels than before,” he warned.

He added: “Unlike the previous arrangements, tiers will now be a uniform set of rules… We won’t have negotiations on additional measures with each region, it’s a uniform set of rules.

“We’ve learnt from experience that there are some things we can do differently.”

Mr Johnson also announced the return of spectators to sports venues next month as coronavirus restrictions are eased in areas with lower infection rates.

He revealed that outdoor and indoor venues in tier 1 and 2 areas would be allowed to admit spectators on a limited basis, but did not confirm what the capacity limits or percentages would be.

It has been reported that 4,000 spectators or 50 per cent capacity limits – whichever is lowest – would be place in tier 1, dropping to 2,000 or 50 per cent for indoor venues.

In tier 2, it has been reported it would be 2,000 outdoors and 1,000 indoors, or 50 per cent capacity.

Mr Johnson also said outdoor grassroots sports and indoor sports facilities like gyms would be able to reopen.

Sir Keir Starmer said there are “huge gaps” in the coronavirus plan announced by Boris Johnson.

“Labour has backed the Prime Minister on all the big decisions the Government’s had to take to protect public health, including the two national lockdowns,” he said.

“We’ve done so because we want there to be a national consensus on difficult issues like this and because we’ll always put public health first.

“Ideally, I’d like to be in a position to do so again. But there are huge gaps in this plan, huge uncertainties and huge risks.

“We will await the detail, we want the Prime Minister to get this right.

“He’s got a week to do so.”

With reporting by PA

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