The government revealed England’s updated tier system this week as the country is set to exit current localised lockdown restrictions on December 2nd. It was announced yesterday that London will be placed in Tier 2, which is for areas with higher or rapidly rising levels of infections.
Under Tier 2 restrictions, hospitality business such as bars and pubs must once again close unless they are operating as restaurants and serve a ‘substantial meal’ alongside any alcohol served. This means that most of London’s LGBTQ+ venues will be forced to remain shut given that they do not serve food.
This serves as another huge blow to LGBTQ+ establishments and the community they serve, who will be mostly unable to access the safe space they provide during the festive period.
For most of these venues, the future remains uncertain and the justification for the restrictions is unclear given the lack of concrete evidence that hospitality is a driving force in the spread of the virus. Ian Wright, Chief Executive of the Food and Drink Federation, has even stated that there is a possibility that two thirds of pubs, clubs and restaurants are in danger of closing before a vaccine arrives.
Many business owners are questioning how being forced to close makes sense given that multiple households will be able to mix indoors without restriction over Christmas.
This week, the CEO of one of London’s oldest and most beloved LGBTQ+ venues, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, issued a statement urging the government to support the hospitality industry which has been so harshly impacted by the pandemic.
“As we wait to hear if we can reopen our business I find myself asking what have the last 39 weeks of lockdown, curfew and enforcement been about,” James Lindsay’s statement reads. “The ‘Great Christmas Relaxation’ plans announced by The Prime Minister and his Cabinet jester colleagues make a mockery of the last 39 weeks of hell and hard work that the hospitality industry has endured and the economic devastation bars, cabaret venues, theatres, restaurants and retail are facing this Christmas.”
“We understand the need for safety and Public Health, since March we have followed every rule the Government has told us to, but now the Government needs to do the honourable thing and financially support the approach to destroy a much loved industry and fully compensate commercially viable businesses who have been operating Covid-19 compliance. That means grants that fully cover their fixed costs and loss of business and loss of profit.”
“It feels like we are on a road to nowhere that will result in the decimation of the hospitality sector as well as more deaths from Covid.”
The full statement can be viewed on the Royal Vauxhall Tavern’s Twitter feed, where you can also find information about when the venue is going to reopen once it is allowed to.