Hospitality outlets in cities including Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle could be forced to close after reports that further restrictions will be announced in the north of England next week.
Multiple reports in the British media suggest that new Covid-19 restrictions are expected to be announced early next week.
According the BBC, the announcement is expected to come on Monday (12 October). It is believed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce the introduction of a three-tier system for controlling the virus, allowing specific areas of the country to be placed in lockdown.
According to the system, areas of the country will be put in different tiers according to their rate of infection. Tier three will result in a lockdown, with hospitality outlets expected to be among the businesses that will be forced to close. Schools and essential shops such as supermarkets will remain open.
Appearing on BBC Breakfast, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, said the measures would be announced “in the coming days” and did not rule out the possibility of pubs and restaurants closing.
According to The Times, Johnson has already signed off on the plans to shut pubs in northern England, as well as a new financial relief scheme for affected businesses.
Jenrick also told Times Radio: “It stands to reason the longer you stay indoors and more you have to drink the less likely you are to observe the rules… we’re not an outlier.”
The news comes at a time when the English hospitality sector is under great strain as a result of local restrictions as well as the national 10pm curfew and social distancing rules.
A vote due on the controversial curfew, set to take place on Wednesday, has now been delayed until next week. 45 Conservative MPs were reported to be against the measure, while Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has inferred that his party won’t back it unless scientific evidence is provided to support it.
In Scotland, pubs and restaurants in central Scotland will be forced to close from tomorrow, while businesses in the rest of the country will be subject to a 6pm closing time.
UKHospitality executive director for Scotland, Willie Macleod, said the situation was a “total catastrophe”.
“Forced closures will spell the end for many, many venues which have no cash flow and will have exhausted their reserves. Severe restrictions to those businesses not forced to close will amount to a closure for many. It is likely to be the final straw for many that were only just hanging on. We are going to see businesses fold and many jobs lost,” he said.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced a £40 million to support businesses that must close. However MacLeod said the funds “will not nearly be sufficient to support the sector”.