Pub chiefs are begging for urgent support to help them through winter after London was plunged back into lockdown and Marston’s vowed to axe more than 2,000 jobs.
In a letter to the Chancellor, industry chiefs said they face a fresh crisis due to tough restrictions in the capital which will bar households from mixing indoors including in pubs and restaurants.
York and Essex were among the areas also placed into Tier 2 restrictions on Thursday, joining Greater Manchester and Lancashire.
The letter, signed by the chief executives of Greene King, Fuller’s, Slug and Lettuce owner Stonegate, All Bar One parent Mitchells & Butlers, and Young’s, warned that the government measures are now at risk of “causing more harm to the sector than the pandemic itself” and will leave many pubs “unviable”.
Combined, the operators are responsible for more than 9,500 pubs, restaurants and bars and 105,000 jobs.
The call came as pub chain Marston’s said it would cut up to 2,150 jobs, blaming restrictions such as the 10pm curfew and a rule only allowing table service for undermining consumer confidence and creating uncertainty.
Marston’s, which has 1,400 pubs and is also one of Britain’s biggest brewers, said the restrictions were "hugely disappointing" and displayed "a lack of clear evidence tying pubs to the recent increase in infection levels".
Marston’s said the cuts will affect staff still on the taxpayer-funded furlough scheme, which equates to about 15pc of its workforce. It has also launched a full review of overhead costs that will be concluded by the end of the year.
Pub bosses warned that thousands more job losses were on the cards if the Treasury does not step up and offer the same support to businesses in Tier 2 areas to those under Tier 3 restrictions, which are the most severe.
Firms forced to close in Tier 3 areas such as Liverpool will be able to apply for £3,000-a-month cash grants from November 1, while the Government will pay 67pc of wages - up to a maximum of £2,100 a month - for each employee affected.
The letter said: “The perverse reality is that as a sector we are financially better off under tier 3 Covid measures than we are under Tier 2 and that is surely not right.
“In London alone, being in Tier 2 will mean a further collapse in trade for 2,700 pubs across London’s 32 boroughs, but no access to the emergency support available for those forced to close.
"As a minimum we are asking that you extend the support made available to hospitality businesses under tier 3 to those under Tier 2 across the UK immediately.
"In addition, we are urging you to consider new ways to support the sector, including an extension of the VAT reduction and business rates holiday and a cut in beer duty. Such actions are critical to our survival."
The firms cited greater financial support given to pubs forced to shut in other European countries such as France, where the state is providing a 100pc wage subsidy until the end of the year.
Industry trade body UK Hospitality said the latest restrictions put 250,000 jobs in capital at risk. Hospitality firms in London have been hardest hit by the pandemic as people continue to work from home, leaving offices deserted, and travel restrictions causes inbound tourism to plummet.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, echoed industry calls for increased government support.
She said: “Without additional financial support, specifically access to financial grants and a job retention scheme closer to that in tier three, many pubs will be closing their doors for good."