‘The restrictions go way too far’ – Northern business owners react to three-tier system

Hospitality and events entrepreneurs fear their livelihoods will be wrecked by the new restrictions

The Government announced further measures to combat Covid-19 on Monday, with many parts of the North of England falling under new “tiers” that carry greater restrictions on commerce and everyday life.

The city region of Liverpool has been placed in the highest tier, while Greater Manchester and other regions are in the second tier.

While the Government is targeting financial support on affected areas, the assistance is less generous than during the nationwide lockdown earlier this year, prompting ire among small business owners. 

The Telegraph spoke to three entrepreneurs in the north west to gauge their opinion on the latest developments. 

Matt Farrell, restaurateur, Liverpool

Matt Farrell Credit: Paul Dallison

“I understand that public health has to be the number one priority, but I think these restrictions are counterproductive and ill thought-out. 

“There should be some restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, but we must think about public health in its entirety and the other issues that this pandemic is causing at the same time. 

“Closing Covid-secure venues and pushing people into unaudited environments will create problems rather than solving them, while also killing the local economy where businesses have spent a lot of money making their premises viable to reopen. Half of our venues are bars and they’ve been closed since March and now potentially face a further six months of closure.

“I try to stay positive in all situations but I’ve also learned that it's okay not to be positive all the time. Managing this interim period is going to be critical – it needs to be done correctly and I don't agree that the government is doing that.”

Kate Stewart, hotelier, Liverpool

Kate Stewart

“I think the restrictions are catastrophic for the hospitality industry and many others that they will have an effect on.  Our industry is already on its knees and the latest announcement puts further pressure on restaurants. More support is desperately needed or thousands of businesses will close and there will be mass job losses.

“The restrictions go way too far. The Office for National Statistics has shown that hospitality is responsible for less than 5pc of Covid transmissions and yet the blame is being put on us. Throughout this pandemic we’ve been repeatedly targeted and Monday’s announcement was yet another blow.

“The pandemic has been terrifying. I’ve had sleepless nights and the worst part is that there’s no end in sight. We don’t know when life will return to a normal that we’re familiar with. My business relies heavily on football trade and functions – neither of which are going to be possible any time soon.

“I thought back in March that we’d be much further along than this – we’ve taken a huge step back. Hospitality has spent thousands on PPE and making our venues Covid-safe. At this point I'm not sure what more we can do.”

Debbie Marks, events planner, Greater Manchester

Debbie Marks

“The new restrictions have not installed any confidence in our clients for future bookings.  The events industry is more than capable of running events in a controlled environment – we are an industry of planners, health and safety is a priority and people management and control of guest flow is what we do best. 

“It’s like the events industry has been completely disregarded. It's been really hard. However, I have had to be really resilient and accept that we can’t control the situation we are in.

“Having additional revenue streams which are not reliant on mass gatherings has been vital for us.  We have introduced an online shop for home chic decor and interiors and Christmas decorations. Just because Boris says we can’t do fun things, it doesn’t mean that we can’t celebrate the most important occasions in life, we just have to do them in a different way now. 

“By March we will have had very little income for 12 months. I’m not giving up, it’s my last chance to turn things around, but I’m a fighter and I’ll keeping going and just hope that people buy into our new products.”

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