Greater Manchester bars and restaurants ‘could close’ over Covid restrictions, business chiefs warn

Bars and restaurants across Greater Manchester could be forced to close their doors for good as a result of new tougher Covid-19 restrictions, the region’s Chamber of Commerce has warned.

The prime minister announced that stricter lockdown measures would be implemented nationally, following rising case numbers compared to the past few months in the UK.

The new restrictions mean not meeting up in social groups of more than six, harsher rules for wearing masks, increased fines of up to £10,000 for first offences, and curfews on businesses.

And Greater Manchester’s Chamber of Commerce Marketing and Campaigns Director, Chris Fletcher said: “For many businesses in the hospitality sector the latest restrictions will cause some concern, especially as many are still getting back on their feet after they were allowed to re-open just a few weeks ago.

“With furlough scheduled to end next month there is a clear danger that this will create even greater financial hardships and could cause some businesses to close completely.”

Many have questioned the thinking behind reducing opening hours in the hospitality sector, which has been able to reopen in the last couple of months having been closed completely since March when the national lockdown was introduced.

Barry Cooperman, manager of Belgian Bar in Altrincham, said: “I cannot understand the government’s rational.

 “At least with the strong Covid restrictions and the strong guidelines, we can make sure that people are drinking responsibly within venues, but by throwing them out at 10 o’clock, they’re simply going to go home en masse to people’s homes and mix.

“There really are limited things we can do. Effectively we’ll be closed on Friday evenings – when we normally make pretty much 70 percent of our weekly income.”

According to the Office for National Statistics, Wave 12 of the Business Impact of Coronavirus Survey (BICS), as of the end of August, states that across the industry 96 percent of the businesses that responded were still trading, and 7.6 percent of businesses in the accommodation and food services industry had temporarily closed or paused trading.

Curfews will be in place from 10pm until 5am in the hospitality sector, and are said to last for a possible six months.

Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels

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