‘The stark reality is that businesses are facing the prospect of a complete decimation in trade,’ a letter to ministers says amid a collapse of the hospitality sector
Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester face mass redundancies and “boarded-up high streets” amid a collapse of the hospitality sector unless coronavirus restrictions are reviewed, the cities’ leaders have warned the government.
A letter to Matt Hancock, the UK’s Health Secretary, as well as the Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, from the leaders and chief executives of the three city councils said restrictions in place in the regions were threatening a “huge, disproportionate” economic impact.
This comes after a minister has suggested that tighter social restrictions could potentially be imposed if COVID-19 infections in the UK continue to rise. Helen Whately blames restrictions on household mixing as a newspaper says a government source claims the action “will have to come”
They said coronavirus guidance in place in the cities that advises people not to mix with other households was “unenforceable” as well as being “contradictory and confusing”.
In the letter, they said: “The stark reality is that these businesses are facing the prospect of a complete decimation in trade, not just in the short term but as we look ahead to the sector’s traditional lifeblood of the Christmas period and almost certainly continuing into spring/summer of next year which we know with certainty will result in mass market failure, huge levels of redundancies and depleted and boarded up high streets.”
And they urged ministers to make the advice law, and compensate businesses with a package of support – or allow mixing within the “rule of six” in controlled environments.
A law banning the mixing of households in public spaces – including pubs and restaurants – was announced for parts of northeast England on Monday, but it remains advice rather than law for other areas in the North.
Leaders of the cities also called for the government to review the 10pm curfew and discuss concerns with local authorities and businesses in advance.
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “We need to find a way to adjust the restrictions to ensure a balance in protecting public health and the need to protect businesses, many of which are teetering on the brink.”
“Liverpool is a city which has built its revival on the leisure and hospitality sectors and it is a massive contributor not just to employment but also to business rates which fund vital local services.”
“The vast majority of our businesses have responded in the right way, investing heavily in providing safe, compliant environments and a place for people to enjoy themselves safely.”
This comes after the UK could soon be seeing 49,000 new cases of COVID-19 every day unless further action is taken in order to drive down the current rate of infection in the country, according to the government’s chief scientific adviser.
Anderson continued by saying:
“The inspections we have carried out show a very high level of compliance.”
“People in restaurants are in COVID-safe environments with high levels of sanitisation and appropriate spacing.”
“Forcing people to leave at 10pm runs the risk that they then go on together to a house in a large group which does not have the same measures in place.”