Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure

"Hamstrung by governmental ineptitude, confusing and ridiculous 'guidelines'" - Cancel The Curfew

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 07 October 2020 7:00

If the Government thought it was under enough pressure already to re-think the 10pm curfew for bars, restaurants and pubs, more is coming its way from Gloucestershire. 

A rallying call has gone out from Gloucester BID to its city centre business members to write to their MP, Richard Graham. 

In Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk should be expecting a call or two from members of the new but mighty TURF group of restaurants, bars, clubs, pubs and hotels which will make their message clear. 

The heat is being turned up ahead of an expected vote next week on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s controversial ruling, with industry publication The Caterer claiming 65 per cent of businesses will go out of business within six months if it remains. 

Brought in as an attempt to combat the rising spread of Covid-19 while allowing businesses to stay open, many are reporting it is stifling trade and others that it was becoming counter-productive in containing Covid-19.

Justin Hudson, chairman of Gloucester LVA, which represents the city’s licencing trade, as well as a member of Gloucester BID, is adamant about what should happen to the rule. 

“Gloucester LVA is working tirelessly within the framework of the NTIA (Night Time Industries Association) to rally its members to express the dire impact of the 10pm curfew - that, lets be honest - serves little to no purpose whatsoever,” said Mr Hudson, who also manages the popular Eastgate Street nightspot Butlers – which installed high profile safety measures to make safe customers and staff.

Read more: Take part in our survey: Where now for Gloucestershire? 

“We are ‘covid secure’ we have done as we were instructed to do so, spent thousands on C-19 measures - screens, furniture, thermo-temperature screening, capacity managers, Apps - the list is never ending, we have security - risk assessments that highlight as safe as we can, operational schedules. 

“The 10pm curfew is counterproductive on every last aspect of this - with the added insult of an absent dispersal policy.

TURF, which represents the independent hospitality trade in Cheltenham, said in a statement: “Members are definitely feeling the full force of the restriction and the general public's total lack of confidence in using hospitality venues. 

“They will be continuing their discussions with Local MP Alex Chalk to try to ensure the curfew is cancelled.” 

Numerous high-profile chefs, including the man often claimed as ‘Gloucestershire’s own’, Tom Kerridge, who grew up in Gloucester and now runs the Hand & Flowers and the Coach, in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, as well as managing a successful television career. 

He told The Caterer: “I am fully behind the Can for Curfew campaign, as without any clear scientific evidence, it feels like yet another knee-jerk reaction from a misguided government that affects the hospitality industry without thinking it through properly.”

Read more: Take part in our survey: Where now for Gloucestershire? 

Other high-profile figures who have spoken out include the Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, who said it had created an “incentive” for people to gather in homes and streets. 

The Food and Drink Federation also warned the measures would not allow businesses to trade profitably and that they would deal “a potentially fatal blow" to hospitality firms. 

Mr Johnson has stated the measures could stay in place for six months, but he also faces what is being reported as a furious Tory mutiny” come Wednesday’s vote.

Posting onto its Instagram account, Bath Road Beers, in Cheltenham, made its own views clear: “We stand alongside all of our brothers and sisters in the hospitality trade who are struggling to survive right now.  
 
“Our industry aims to do nothing but bring good times and happiness, but we are hamstrung by governmental ineptitude, confusing and ridiculous ‘guidelines’ and a lack of support for an industry that employs millions directly and indirectly.”

Seb Dasilva, who runs the ever-popular independent Sebz restaurant in Northgate Street, Gloucester, said the Government was between a rock and a hard place. 

“It is very, very difficult. For us, it is about adapting and encouraging our customers to adapt, and that has been working up to a point,” he said. 

“But I think the bigger restaurants that depend on late sittings and a lot of the pubs are finding it’s very tough – especially if your pub is used to making most of its revenue on Friday and Saturday night.” 

In Gloucester, he said, his own customers were adapting to the earlier sittings, but there had been a significant impact overall. 

“Our lunchtimes are dead at the moment. In the evening, we had a party of six cancel the other day because two were coming from Wales and they had been warned not to travel. 

We lost another 12 when someone from each party called to say they had been asked to self-isolate, which meant everyone else in the group had to do the same. 

“It is a rollercoaster in the restaurant trade. First, we close, then we open, then we had the crazy times of the Eat out to help out, then the 10pm curfew. We need to adapt all the time to survive. It is not easy.” 

X