Anger at pub rules for December and Christmas

Plans to ease household mixing rules over the Christmas season have been labeled a “mockery” of restrictions that will continue to apply to pubs and the wider hospitality industry.

According to government guidelines published Tuesday, between December 23 and 27, people will not be able to meet their Christmas bubbles of up to three households in pubs, hotels, shops, theaters or restaurants.

This is despite the fact that those in Christmas bells are able to visit each other’s homes and stay overnight during that period.

Rules for meeting in a catering establishment depend on the level of restrictions in England where a venue is located.

Emma McClarkin, CEO of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “These plans for Christmas make fun of the additional restrictions placed on pubs and the economic devastation they will face this Christmas.

“How is it that pubs cannot open properly while households can mingle in private situations?

“Government data has consistently shown that door-to-door handover is one of the highest, with hospitality accounting for only 2% of Covid incidents when open.

“Pubs are a controlled, safe and regulated environment in which to socialize – following all government guidelines and working with NHS track and trace. They are part of the solution to a safe and enjoyable Christmas, not the problem.

“It appears that the government has chosen to cause unnecessary pain and irreversible damage to our industry without publishing evidence in addition to these decisions.”

Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality chief executive, accused the government of “confused thinking” about the exclusion of hospitality businesses from the relaxed Christmas rules.

She said, “This quickly turns into the Christmas nightmare for hospitality. While no one begrudges families getting together over the holidays, the safest place to do so is in well-run and supervised hangouts.

“It is certainly better that hotels are open and offer a place to stay than that several households are cramped in one house.”

Ms. Nicholls added: “The government’s exclusion of these companies from these new rules shows a muddled mindset and will cause even more damage to the industry so soon after the announcement of the new level restrictions.

“Catering establishments should be seen as part of the solution to provide people with a well-deserved, safe and enjoyable Christmas, especially as there is an exponentially greater risk of multiple households interfering with the privacy of private homes.”

Labor MP Emma Hardy, who represents Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle, asked on Twitter: “Why can’t families meet in a restaurant during the ‘rest period’ over Christmas? Our hospitality industry will not recover if they fail to trade during this crucial period. ”

Ms. Hardy said she had filed questions with the government asking for “the evidence base” for the decision.

Ms. McClarkin argued that pubs should be “fully compensated” if they are unable to open during the Christmas season.

“Christmas is the most important time of the year for trade in our industry,” she added.

“This year more than ever. Without it, thousands will not survive the winter unless the government does the right thing and intervenes with financial support to help them. That means subsidies that fully cover their fixed costs, such as during the first lockdown.

“We all need some festive encouragement after this difficult year – and we want everyone to be able to safely enjoy a beer at their local pub with family and friends this Christmas.

“After all, Christmas is not the same if we can’t go to the locals.”

JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin warned that government policies could have a devastating effect on hospitality jobs.

He said in a statement, “No one in the government appears to have any experience running a business – and their current policies seem destined to cause the loss of a million jobs in the hospitality industry, with further ‘ripple’ job losses in the industry. whole economy. “

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said the government had “snatched the vague remnants of the Christmas spirit from the hands of many companies in the industry.”

“The new restrictions coming in next week and the relaxation for many businesses over Christmas, and the deliberate exclusion of the nighttime economy within the Christmas plans, have left many frustrated and angry at the lack of attention to people and businesses,” said Kill. .

He added, “The government is simply wrong. It’s a terribly wrong estimate at such an important time of the year for everyone.

“Our industry has worked incredibly hard with government departments to ensure our businesses are Covid Safe, only to be hit again by unworkable, non-evidence-based restrictions.

“We were deliberately sacrificed for opening other sectors during the festive season.”