Bars and pubs across the country are campaigning against the new 10pm curfew as of this week. Some are even going so far as to ban MPs from their premises until the restrictions are lifted.
All hospitality venues must now shut at 10pm, according to a new rule which came into effect in England last Thursday (September 24). Introduced as a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus, which has been recently spiking in England, the rule has faced huge backlash from venues who have already been pushed to breaking point by the pandemic.
In response, over 1200 bars came together to launch the #CancelTheCurfew campaign on Monday, September 28, aimed at pressuring the government to revoke the new rule.
The campaign was originally planned in Facebook bar groups around the UK, specifically in Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester, but has quickly gained traction in venues of all stripes.
The movement started this Monday with hospitality leaders, operators and employees – as well as ‘anyone with a love for the hospitality industry’ – being called to share official #CancelTheCurfew images on their social media platforms. A silent protest will follow at 10pm Saturday (October 3) with staff leaving their venues to stand outside.
Some venues are taking this even further, however, and have now banned MPs from entering their premises.
Mojo, which has bars in Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Nottingham and Harrogate, is one such venue. The company shared a picture of MPs on its Instagram page with the word "banned" across it. "You won't serve us, so we won't serve you," read the caption.
The group went on to call on “friends, colleagues, brothers and sisters in bars, pubs and restaurants across the country” to join them in putting all the members of parliament “on notice.”
“With neither evidence to support the assumption that hospitality is driving infection – only 35 cases have been reported in the sector and as of yet no sign of the threatened dramatic upturn in deaths – the move to curtail the operational hours of our already crippled industry seems unjust and punitive,” said Michael Greenhow of bar group Mojo.
Going on to call the rule “illogical and irrational”, Greenhow asked if “people are more infectious after 10pm?”
“Hospitality has slaved to work responsibly within the constraints laid out for us and now we are being thrown aside with scant concern for the impact these measures will have on our businesses and the wider economy.”
A post shared by Mojo Manchester (@mojomanchester) on Sep 28, 2020 at 8:20am PDT
These views are widely shared by an industry that has put time, money and effort into training staff and putting Covid-secure measures in place in order to reopen. Now, only 12 weeks after being allowed to reopen, their prime serving hours have been taken away.
The economical impact has been immediate. Venues are reporting a drop in revenue of over 60 per cent since curfew was imposed, and projected losses for the central London industry currently stand at £5.5million a day.
Claims of unfairness are backed up by recent stats from Public Health England that put restaurants and bars far behind other sectors in rate of transmission, with only 3 per cent of transmissions outside of the home coming from the hospitality sector. This puts bars and pubs as having one of the lowest infection rates outside of the home.
Concerns have also been raised recently at the effectiveness of the curfew, with videos emerging recently of customers leaving bars enmasse at 10pm.
A key point is that while in a bar or pub, customers can be monitored, Once on the street, punters may choose to continue partying outside or return to their homes to continue drinking in groups, potentially without wearing masks or regularly santising.
“Suddenly, the government has cancelled all our good work and is pushing our guests (inhospitably) onto the streets where they are forced together into shops and transport,” said Philip David, the founder of the Welsh Bartenders group and one of the figures behind the movement.
“It inevitably entices them to carry on the party either on the street, or in private where no one will be keeping a watchful eye.”
“The industry that we love is in grave danger of being suffocated by this curfew,” added Tom Lord, the founder of Hospitality Gin and another of the campaign’s leaders. “Some venues were starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel as customers returned and we all settled into “the new normal”. Now we’ve been plunged back into uncertainty.”
“We want the British public to know the impact that the curfew is going to have. We have borne the brunt of the measures announced over the past fortnight. We are vilified as breeding grounds for the virus, yet Public Health England’s own figures show this is not true.”
“Stop blaming hospitality. Let us serve”