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‘We’re losing hundreds of pounds a day’ - Hospitality traders respond to government’s 10pm curfew

PUBLISHED: 06:49 05 October 2020 | UPDATED: 11:45 06 October 2020

Francis Woolf from Woolf & Social. Picture: Courtesy of Woolf & Social

Francis Woolf from Woolf & Social. Picture: Courtesy of Woolf & Social

Courtesy of Woolf & Social

Bars and restaurants have warned of the disastrous impact the 10pm curfew has had on the hospitality industry - with some owners reporting a 40pc loss in revenue, equal to hundreds of pounds every day.

Dawn Hopkins, owner and landlady of The Rose in Norwich is looking forward to welcoming back her customers Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNDawn Hopkins, owner and landlady of The Rose in Norwich is looking forward to welcoming back her customers Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

It comes following prime minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that all bars and restaurants had to close early in a bid to tackle the rising coronavirus levels.

However, bar and restaurant owners in Norwich have issued a bleak warning, claiming that the curfew has already had a devastating impact and could lead to more closures and job losses.

Chef Francis Woolf, co-owner of Norwich-based restaurant Woolf and Social, in Nelson Street, off Dereham Road, said the curfew had taken away an hour and a half of serving time, significantly reducing the amount of covers they are able to host.

He described the measures introduced by the government as “devastating” and counter-productive to the objective of stopping the spread of the virus.

Dawn Hopkins, owner and landlady of The Rose in Norwich is looking forward to welcoming back her customers Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNDawn Hopkins, owner and landlady of The Rose in Norwich is looking forward to welcoming back her customers Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“This is actually the most ill thought-out policy I could imagine,” he said. “It’s having the opposite effect to what the government are trying to do and I’m not sure what it’s meant to achieve.”

He added that Public Health England reports showed that the traceable infection rate from the hospitality industry was at 4pc, one of the lowest.

He also claimed his business had suffered a 40pc loss in revenue and new measures had to be introduced to increase takings, including offering take-away and opening earlier.

“We all want to make sure we don’t spread the infection.

Loui Blake, boss at Erpingham House in Norwich. pic: submittedLoui Blake, boss at Erpingham House in Norwich. pic: submitted

“No restaurant or bar wants to shut as that would mean even more of a financial impact. These are our businesses and we are invested in them.”

Mr Woolf is now backing the #cancelthecurfew campaign, which is calling on the government to either scrap the curfew or provide adequate assistance to the hospitality industry.

“Please support a review of this. Small places like us won’t survive under the current restrictions.”

Victoria MacDonald, of the Ram Inn, South Norfolk, and Cellar House, in Norwich, also reported selling less beers, having a knock-on impact on local brewers.

Loui Blake who runs Erpingham House. Pic: Erpingham HouseLoui Blake who runs Erpingham House. Pic: Erpingham House

She said: “The 10pm curfew is a farce based on a government fag packet exercise.

“We are incredibly covid safe environments as reflected in the Public Health England statistics - simply the 10pm rule has no validation in science.

“The knock on effects for the supply chain that hospitality supports are dire. Taxi drivers are reporting a drop in takings, we’re selling less beer which supports our local brewers.”

The 10pm curfew has proved divisive, with people in the industry saying people are now pouring out onto the streets at the same time, and often heading to the same supermarkets or vying for the same taxi and public transport.

Loui Blake, boss at Erpingham House in Norwich. pic: submittedLoui Blake, boss at Erpingham House in Norwich. pic: submitted

Dawn Hopkins, vice chairwoman of The Campaign for Pubs, and a landlady at The Rose, in Norwich, has signed a letter urging the government to support pubs more and stop the curfew.

She said: “My pub has never been a late night one but, even so, I am losing hundreds in trade every night by having to ask customers to leave by 10pm. All at a time when trade is restricted to the point of being hardly viable.

“I also have customers worried about getting buses home with everyone else at the same time.

“It’s a pointless restriction that is costing this trade dearly whilst having no scientific or logical basis.”

The Woolf and Social restaurant on Nelson Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Woolf and Social restaurant on Nelson Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Echoing that ethos was Loui Blake, of the city’s Erpingham House and Dog House Pub, who said there needed to be an end goal.

“The implications of the 10pm curfew are in direct contradiction to the objective they seek to meet,” he said. “It is encouraging people to drink earlier, faster and creating a bottleneck of people leaving venues in our city centre.

“The additional economic pressure on venues to operate with full costs and reduced opening hours makes business even harder and creates job uncertainty, with no feasible plan or end goal for us to work toward.”

The government has yet to offer a comprehensive explanation of the scientific evidence for cutting off trade at 10pm, claimed a number of hospitality workers, despite repeated claims to do so.

Dawn Hopkins, landlady at the Rose in Norwich. Pic: ArchantDawn Hopkins, landlady at the Rose in Norwich. Pic: Archant

Glen Sarabi of Bond cocktail bar said that the industry “has been left to rot”.

He added: “It’s an idiocracy to think a 10pm or other form of curfew would ever work. The inevitable of large gatherings is happening through no fault of the hospitality sector, only through ill thought-out rules and laws by government.

“My staff, security and entertainers are all suffering from this ruling that has still to date no scientific backing.”


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