Ministers are reportedly considering new measures, which could come as early as Monday, as infection rates continue to skyrocket in cities such as Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle.
The move, if upheld, would be another blow to the struggling hotel industry in areas already reeling from the imposition of the controversial 10 p.m. curfew.
Andrew Cooper, the head of the Leeds Business Improvement District (BID), had added his voice to calls from leaders of the Northern Council asking the government to simplify the restrictions on Covid-19.
Just two weeks ago, the government announced that Leeds would be subject to further restrictions, with individuals no longer allowed to meet with those from other households inside, while advising households not to meet either. outside.
After the 10 p.m. curfew, hospitality businesses reported huge financial losses after being forced to operate at different times.
But with yet another potential closure of pubs and restaurants around the corner, many businesses in Leeds have said how devastating it would be.
Callum Lister, director of North Bar, said if the health and safety of the public is to remain paramount, he believes the government will make a crippling catastrophic decision.
“It feels like it’s been death by thousands of cuts at this point,” he said.
“You know we’ve done everything we can to keep this place as safe as possible, and now we’re hearing the government sort of saying that it’s not enough and we all have to shut down.”
“It’s kind of like we’re drying out, really.
“Like I said, people’s health has to come first and it’s always the right decision. But is the government right?
“It would be totally and utterly devastating for us, but we are fortunate to be in a position where we should be okay with moving forward.
“I certainly hope the government will reconsider this.
Another owner of a popular local in Leeds, Dave, who owns Sarto and Laynes Express, agreed with Callum.
Dave Olejnik said: “Since the government’s decision to enforce the local lockdown and curfew, it has been a very difficult time.
“It’s crazy how calm it is around Leeds city center. For us, it is quite difficult for us to survive.
“But another lock, it wouldn’t be the last nail in the coffin, but it would be a nail in – it would be completely crippling.” We will scrape the bottom of the barrel to stay open.
“We are on such a thin line between survival and bankruptcy, as are many other popular establishments in this downtown area as well.
Like Callum, Dave feels that the hospitality industry is blamed for the failure of its own bad decisions.
He said: “I really don’t like the message he sends by shutting down the hospitality industries, he says hospitality is dangerous – I think that message is wrong.
“All the figures suggest that an infection rate of 4.2% comes from the hospitality industry, as we see that schools and universities will remain open into the 1930s and 1940s.
“We have the impression that in hospitality we are thrown under the bus, we have done everything to ensure the safety of our customers and we will continue to do so. ”
While the council said it would do all it can to help local businesses and the hospitality industry, it called on the government to review the rules, saying the current situation could “create a position that is the worst of both worlds. “.
Cllr Judith Blake, Head of Leeds City Council (LCC), said: ‘We have been working closely with local businesses in our hospitality industry throughout the pandemic, supporting them in any way we can. to continue to operate viable businesses.
“The tenacity and innovation they have shown during these incredibly difficult months has been inspiring.
“Hospitality is a cornerstone of our city’s economy, supporting thousands of jobs, but it’s no secret that despite our best efforts, the sector has unfortunately been one of the hardest hit. through efforts to contain the spread of the virus in our communities.
“The current curfew makes this fight for survival even more difficult to win and in some cases it unfortunately proves impossible, with many businesses and jobs in our city now in serious jeopardy.
“With our partners in the sector, we believe that current economic measures must be urgently reviewed to give these struggling businesses a chance to survive, so that jobs are saved and for an essential part of the identity. from the city. be preserved.
“Hospitality will play a key role on the road to recovery and we hope the government recognizes its importance to the future of our economy and public finances by changing these restrictions. “