Great Britain

‘It’s a total mess’: Pubs and restaurants react to new coronavirus restrictions and 10pm curfew

Pub owner Ben Caudell (left) and Hampstead restauranteur Rinaldo Mollura fear for the hospitality industry after the latest Covid-19 measures. Pictures: Ben Caudell/Polly Hancock

Pub owner Ben Caudell (left) and Hampstead restauranteur Rinaldo Mollura fear for the hospitality industry after the latest Covid-19 measures. Pictures: Ben Caudell/Polly Hancock

Archant

Pubs and restaurants around Hampstead and Highgate say they are “confused” after a raft of coronavirus measures announced by the government on Tuesday.

Customers will now have to wear a mask until the point they sit down at a table. Picture: Victoria Jones/PACustomers will now have to wear a mask until the point they sit down at a table. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA

The prime minister Boris Johnson imposed fresh Covid-19 restrictions on the hospitality industry including a 10pm curfew, the wider use of face masks for customers and staff, and table service only.

The measures come into effect on Thursday and could last for six months. They are designed to stem the growing number of coronavirus cases nationally but hospitality chiefs have warned they could spell the end for many businesses already struggling to survive.

Ben Caudell, co-owner of the Rose & Crown in Kentish Town, said his pub was stuck in “limbo” and that “everything was left up in the air”.

He told the Ham&High: “It feels like we are being hung out to dry a little bit because the government implemented Eat Out to Help Out, which helped pubs and restaurants get back on their feet.

Jimmy McGrath, landlord of the King William IV pub in Hampstead, said the restrictions Jimmy McGrath, landlord of the King William IV pub in Hampstead, said the restrictions "could have been worse". Picture: Polly Hancock

“But now we are completely left in the dark and it feels like the government are sort of cutting their ties with the hospitality industry, that they’ve done their bit and now it’s up to us to just accept these are going to be the rules and conditions.”

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Ben warned that the table service rule would be “very difficult” for a small pub like his to introduce, and that it could mean only three or four couples would be able to sit inside.

Rinaldo Mollura, who owns four Hampstead restaurants, said the government’s “mixed messaging” was a “total mess” and that he was “completely confused” over the specifics of the rules.

He said the changes could reduce his business’ takings by up to 50% and that the hospitality industry could be ruined if they lasted for six months.

Gerry O’Boyle, owner of the Boogaloo in Highgate, called the new measures “very disappointing” after his pub reopened in the summer and completely changed its operations to meet Covid-19 regulations.

He said the latest series of restrictions would have a “huge” impact on the trading of the pub, which is normally open until 2am on weekends.

Gerry told this newspaper: “The problem with this 10pm curfew is that people aren’t going to go home. They’ll go to someone’s house, the park or somewhere else – it’s just going to drive it underground.”

Jimmy McGrath, owner of the King William IV pub in Hampstead, said: “It is bad but it could be worse.

“I am a bit worried but it is not a total lockdown. We will go along with whatever they require us to do because the rules are there for a reason.”

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