Businesses in the hospitality sector have called for more support after Sage minutes showed that curfews were likely to have a marginal impact on the transmission of the virus.
UK Hospitality’s chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The curfew was brought in without any compelling evidence that it would impact [the spread of] Covid-19. Now we see that the recommendations were that it would barely help.
“It is squeezing the remaining life out of businesses and must be reconsidered, at the very least in those areas where infection rates are low.”
Neil Walker, a spokesman for the Society of Independent Brewers, said the 10pm drinking rule came as a further blow for an industry that “has had to adapt to survive and which has proven it can operate safely and responsibly”.
He added: “We have been clear from the outset that the Government should release their reasoning for the pubs curfew.
“To find out now that the evidence is thin, to say the least, makes the policy even harder to swallow for publicans and the small breweries that supply them.”
All Bar One owner Mitchells & Butlers, which started redundancy consultations with staff on Tuesday, called on the Government to increase its support for the sector.
A spokeswoman said the pub and bar group was facing significant difficulties due to the 10pm curfew and new enforced closures.
The decision to cull jobs came hours after bars in Liverpool were told to close as part of the Government’s new three-tiered restriction system for England. It has not disclosed how many roles were likely to be affected.
“With trading restrictions and uncertainty likely to continue for the foreseeable future, we strongly urge the Government to step up the level of support it is offering to an industry which has been repeatedly singled out and taken the full brunt of restrictions,” the spokeswoman added.
Separately, PureGym boss Humphrey Cobbold said the decision to force gyms and fitness centres in Liverpool to close actively contributed to the “wilful destruction” of the sector. He claimed there was “no evidence of Covid-19 transmission in gyms” and that PureGym, the UK’s largest chain, said it was considering legal action against the Government.
Adding to the voices that calling for extra support was Save Inbound Tourism (SIT), a new lobby group for the tourism industry.
“Government support packages for British business are practically useless for the UK travel industry and recent legislation to abolish tourists’ ability to reclaim VAT next year is the final nail in the coffin that spells the death knell for the industry,” it said.
Last month, the Treasury said it would abolish the tax relief this year as it planned to bring it in line with other systems post-Brexit, angering retailers.