With growing concern over rising infection rates, a ban on gatherings of more than six people goes into effect across England on Monday, while Scotland and Wales have their own amended restrictions.
The measures, coupled with local lockdowns, have fueled fears that a nascent recovery among companies that have managed to trade could be nipped in the bud, especially if rumors of a 10 p.m. curfew in England – or even at 9 p.m. in Scotland – turn out to be true.
Richard Nattriss, who runs the Little Angel in Whitby, North Yorkshire, said a recent short period of heavy commercial activity would come to a halt in the event of a local foreclosure, as government grants for affected businesses were insufficient to pay for the staff.
“Middlesbrough is our concern because there has been a big increase and a lot of people are coming from there for drinks,” Nattriss said.
“If they bring it [coronavirus] in Whitby no one knows how much of a push it must be before we’re all closed.
“If it’s after October [when the furlough scheme ends] they’re willing to give us £ 1,500 every three weeks, but that won’t pay anyone’s wages.
“This is when you end up seeing very quick layoffs and layoffs.”
Liz Hind, owner of the Old Millwrights Arms in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, said she is already feeling the pinch, with the restoration program elevating to help dissipate.
“New rules go into effect on Monday and I’ve had parties that canceled because they can’t have more than six people inside or outside,” she said.
“We know we need to do our part and may need to shut down again for the sake of public health, but we should not be abandoned if this requirement exists.
“I live above the pub so if I lose it I lose my house because it’s a commercial space so I’m not even covered by eviction laws. It’s dark.
Hind, a former Labor parliamentary candidate, called on the government to heed the opposition party’s call to expand the leave program to support pubs and bars.
Paul Crossman, who runs three pubs in York, supported the proposal.
“People are at the limit of their reserves, so no more lockdowns now would be the nail in the coffin of the operators of these little pubs,” he said.
The British Beer and Pub Association called for an industry-specific holiday program beyond October as well as extended VAT cuts, corporate rate relief and lower tariffs on beer , which, according to Executive Director Emma McClarkin, “remains punishingly high.”
Nightclubs had previously warned they were facing “financial armageddon” after being excluded from easing restrictions that allowed many pubs to open in July.
Michael Kill, Managing Director of the Night Time Industries Association, said: “Without a roadmap for reopening or further indication of financial support, this causes a considerable level of distress and anger.”
He pointed to a looming tipping point at the end of September, when state-funded vacation payments are cut and a moratorium on forfeiture of business premises for non-payment of rent ends.
“People will have to make some pretty drastic decisions,” Kill said.
“At some point, you have to realize that there will be losses of businesses and jobs.”