United Kingdom

Owner of G-A-Y slams Government's 'ridiculous' Covid Tiers

The owner of G-A-Y has slammed the Government's 'ridiculous' coroanvirus tier system after the famous bar was forced to reopen with table service and food from McDonald's.

Jeremy Joseph said the Government had 'discriminated against wet-led venues' in its rules to tackle Covid-19. He claimed ministers had failed to give clear guidance. 

In order to reopen under London's Tier 2 restrictions, the brand's popular Old Compton Street bar worked with a number of nearby restaurants - including McDonald's - to offer a table service menu from tomorrow.

The change, along with the introduction of masks and social distancing, means the experience at one of London's most renowned venues is a long way from the usual mix of dancing and glitter.

Jeremy Joseph (pictured with his dog Jacob at G-A-Y bar in Soho) said the Government had 'discriminated against wet-led venues' in its rules to tackle Covid-19. He claimed ministers had failed to give clear guidance

In order to reopen under London's Tier 2 restrictions, the brand's popular Old Compton Street bar worked with a number of nearby restaurants - including McDonald's - to offer a table service menu from tomorrow. Pictured, a Deliveroo driver with McDonald's in Chelmsford

However, G-A-Y nightclub by Manchester's Canal Street remains closed due to Tier 3 restrictions. 

Mr Joseph's other London venue, Heaven - which has hosted the likes of Lady Gaga and Kylie Minogue - is due to reopen this weekend despite uncertainty over what guidance it needs to follow.

Usually a club and live music venue, Heaven is set to show musical theatre from Saturday instead. However, management are still waiting to hear if they can work within theatre rules - which permit the sale of alcohol without food.

'The Government haven't really thought about this at all,' Mr Joseph said.

'They are so out of touch. The problem is they haven't ever had a conversation with hospitality.'

'It's all very well saying you've got to serve food. But that's not what we do. Do they want me to suddenly open a kitchen and start cooking when I have no idea about food hygiene?' he said.

The change, along with the introduction of masks and social distancing, means the experience at one of London's most renowned venues (pictured) is a long way from the usual mix of dancing and glitter

'The reason we teamed up with other restaurants is because that's what they do for a living.'

Since taking over in the 1990s, Mr Joseph has overseen the transformation of G-A-Y from a popular club night to a multi-venue brand.

However, his frustration at the Government's handling of coronavirus prompted him to launch a legal challenge in October over its 10pm curfew on hospitality, which was refused.

The Government has now relaxed the curfew to 11pm.

The curfew, social distancing rules and lower footfall in city centres will mean takings in those venues that are able to open are still well down on normal years, and that after several months of no income at all due to lockdowns.

Members of the public who have ordered McDonalds at the G-A-Y bar in Soho, London

A mobile till to order food at the G-A-Y bar in Soho, London. The bar is serving food from other restaurants including McDonald's to adhere to the substantial meal requirement as part of the Government's coronavirus restrictions

He believes that Chancellor Rishi Sunak has missed a chance to keep many more businesses alive by failing to address the costs businesses face on rents.

'One of the reasons Debenhams and Topshop have gone under is that they couldn't afford the rent.

'Their biggest cost of keeping going was rent ... rent for G-A-Y Bar in Old Compton Street is £127,000 every three months. So god knows what Topshop is.

'If you've got zero income ... that's the thing Rishi has avoided the whole way through,' Mr Joseph said.

In October Mr Joseph launced a legal challenge against the Government's 10pm curfew - saying the hospitality trade had been 'thrown under the bus'. 

Landlords in Tier 2 areas can only sell alcoholic beverages with a 'substantial meal' under new rules which come into force in England today - so the Brewer's Arms in Worcester has teamed up with a local chippie to allow it to serve food

Lawyers wrote to the health secretary threatening a judicial review and Mr Joseph said he would start legal proceedings if Matt Hancock did not reply. 

He wants to overturn the curfew because it 'makes absolutely no sense' and does 'the opposite of protecting people'.

The government brought in the controversial measure on September 24 to try to stem the surge in coronavirus cases across the country. 

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Boris Johnson gave his backing to savvy pub landlords who are using takeaways as a way of providing customers with a 'substantial meal'.

Downing Street has given the thumbs-up for 'wet pubs' - which do not normally serve meals - to team up with local fast food outlets in order to carry on pulling pints. 

Households are also banned from mixing indoors, causing many punters to brave the chilly weather tonight to dine al-fresco (soho pictured)

However a spokesman said pubs must be in an agreement with 'local restaurants' in order to keep within England's new Covid Tier 2 rules.

Punters will not be allowed to bring their own food into a pub - pouring cold water on plans to use food delivery services such as Deliveroo. 

New rules, which came into force in England this week, mean landlords in Tier 2 areas can only sell alcoholic beverages with a 'substantial meal'.

Households are also banned from mixing indoors, causing many punters to brave the chilly weather tonight to dine al-fresco.

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