Restaurants across London have been inundated with reservations as diners book up tables ahead of lockdown lifting next week.
Seats at many top restaurants in exclusive eateries across the capital have already been snapped up during prime dinner slots, with booking site OpenTable and restaurants’ online booking systems showing limited or no availability left.
Some popular spots have already seen their diaries fill for prime dinner times over the weekend and into next week.
Several restaurants do not have availability beyond 5.30pm on Thursday, with a similar picture into the weekend.
The hospitality industry was boosted by the news earlier this week that restaurants will be able to reopen when restrictions are eased on December 3.
Gymkhana, Mayfair: No tables after 17.30 on Thursday or beyond 4pm on Friday December 4 at the popular Indian restaurant
Tables for prime dinner slots have filled up at Gymkhana in Mayfair, their website shows
Coya, Mayfair: No tables from 5.30pm onwards on Thursday, December 3 at this exclusive London eatery
Their online booking service shows no tables other than one slot on Thursday ar 5.30pm
Business leaders warn capital can’t survive Tier Three that will trigger ‘atomic bomb’ of job cuts and High Street devastation and leave economy in ruins
London’s top restaurateurs and hoteliers warned placing the capital in Tier 3 would wipe out half the hospitality industry.
Richard Caring, who owns The Ivy, Annabel’s, Bill’s and Soho House, said Boris Johnson’s rules to suppress Covid-19 were actually a ‘killer’ for businesses.
While hotelier Mark Fuller, who owns the popular celebrity haunt Karma Sanctum in Soho, said putting the capital in Tier 3 will see 50 per cent of hospitality businesses go to the wall.
It came as London’s Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan wants the city to be placed in Tier 2 claiming that tier 3 would be a hammer blow that bars, restaurants, and clubs ‘might not recover from’.
And furious London Tories have warned the PM that it would be an economic ‘disaster’ if the capital was hit with the toughest possible coronavirus restrictions after lockdown ends.
Restaurant and club mogul Mr Caring, 72, has predicted a ‘big explosion’ of job losses in January unless Covid restrictions on hospitality end in the run-up to Christmas.
Pubs, bars and cafes will also be allowed to reopen when England comes out of the national lockdown.
But as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to carve the nation into a tiered system once again, the restrictions in higher tiers are set to remain tight.
London’s top restaurateurs and hoteliers warned that placing the capital in Tier 3 would wipe out half the hospitality industry and trigger an ‘atomic bomb’ of job losses after Christmas.
Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan also wants the city to be placed in Tier 2 claiming that tier 3 would be a hammer blow that bars, restaurants, and clubs ‘might not recover from’.
The Conservative candidate for mayor, Shaun Bailey, also sent the Prime Minister a clear warning after it emerged officials could place the metropolis into the top Tier 3 after December 2 and said: ‘It would be a disaster for London if we were in Tier 3’
But before the tiers were announced, optomistic diners snapped up top tables in preparation for the end of lockdown.
At the Michelin starred Gymkhana restaurant in Mayfair, tables were booked up from 5.30pm on Thursday and well into next week with only limited tables for dinner from 6pm onwards.
The Indian restaurant draws its theme from the colonial British-Indian ‘gymkhana’ clubs and specialises in tandoori and chatpatta sharing dishes.
The Duck and Waffle restaurant in Bishopsgate has also been booked up in prime slots on Friday evening with no tables from 6.45pm.
Mayfair restaurants Coya, Bagatelle and Goodman were in a similar situation with little or no tables available for people to book.
Coya’s online booking system also showed tables have been filled by keen foodies for much of the weekend, with very few remaining slots left to book.
On Thursday their website shows no tables from 5.30pm onwards.
Bagatelle, Mayfair: No tables from 6.30pm on Thursday are available in the famed celebrity haunt
Bagatelle’s online booking system shows very few slots for dinner on Thursday, with reservations already being made over a week in advance for December 10
Goodman, Mayfair: No tables available between 5.45 and 9pm on Thursday, with prime dinner slots also booked up at the popular steakhouse restaurant into the weekend
The steakhouse’s online booking system shows no availability between 5.45pm and 9pm on Thursday night
Sexy Fish, Mayfair: No tables from 17.30pm on Thursday December 3 – another restaurant that saw a surge in demand
Tables are not available from 5.30pm onwards on Thursday after diners rushed to book tables to celebrate lockdown being lifted
Goodman steakhouse in Mayfair also had no tables available between 5.45 and 9pm on Thursday, with the prime dinner slots also booked up at the weekend.
Popular celebrity haunt Bagatelle also has no tables from 6.30pm on Thursday, their website shows, while sushi restaurant Sexy Fish in Berkeley Square had no availability from 5.30pm.
The website of the popular Sushisamba restaurant also shows tables at prime evening hours on Friday and Saturday have quickly been snapped up at their Covent Garden site.
Sushisamba, Covent Garden: Their website show tables at prime evening hours on Friday and Saturday have been snapped up as diners dash to book tables for when lockdown is lifted
Duck and Waffle, Bishopsgate: No tables after 6.45pm for dinner on Friday evening
The Bishopsgate restaurant had dinner slots available for an early dinner, but nothing after 6.45pm on Friday
WHAT ARE THE NEW TIER RULES?
Tier One will be the default and measures will not be allowed to get more relaxed in any part of England:
- Rule of six and social distancing apply to gatherings indoors and outdoors;
- Pubs and restaurants are allowed to open with table service only and an 11pm closing time.
- People from separate households cannot meet indoors and the rule of six applies outside;
- Pubs must close unless operating as restaurants, with alcoholic drinks served alongside meals;
Tier Three will be the toughest level of restrictions and rules have been tightened up to make them stricter than before. All of the Tier Two rules apply as well as the following:
- Indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas, theatres and bowling alleys must close;
- Pubs, restaurants and cafes must close except for takeaway;
- Shops and hairdressers and salons will be allowed to remain open;
- Groups of six will be allowed to meet outdoors only;
- Crowds at live events will be banned;
- People should avoid travelling out of, or into, Tier Three areas unless it is unavoidable.
While OpenTable also shows their restaurants in both Covent Garden and the City are unable to accept reservations for dinner on Thursday.
Diners rushed to secure tables when Boris Johnson announced on Monday the national lockdown will end on December 2, but Britain will go back to a stricter system of tiers until March 31.
He is expected today to carve up the nation into three alert levels, leaving businesses anxiously waiting to hear which curbs they will face.
The regional tiered system is expected to last until the end of March 2021.
Restaurants are allowed to open under the new rules, while non-essential retail and gyms were given the green light to fully reopen, as was indoor entertainment venues in Tiers 1 and 2.
The rule of six and social distancing measures still apply, with indoor dining limited to six people from one household or support bubble, or six people from various households if the reservation is for business purposes.
The government also announced changes to the 10pm curfew.
Mr Johnson unveiled a plan so that while last orders must be called at 10pm, people will get an extra hour to finish their food and drinks, with opening hours to be extended until 11pm.
But the Prime Minister announced that pubs in Tier 2 can only serve drinks with a ‘substantial meal’, while those in Tier 3 are limited to just takeaways.
Taking a press conference from self-isolation in Downing Street, Mr Johnson said: ‘Tis the season to be jolly, but it is also the season to be jolly careful, especially with elderly relatives.’
Pubs claim they are being put to the slaughter like ‘sacrificial lambs’ in order to unlock other parts of the economy, and landlords have fumed in the face of fresh restrictions.
They accuse the PM of failing to provide evidence that tighter measures on the hospitality sector will help reduce the spread of infection this winter.
The hospitality industry has borne the brunt of the harshest restrictions since the beginning of the pandemic. But pub bosses claim their businesses are being put to the slaughter like ‘sacrificial lambs’ in order to unlock other parts of the economy. Pictured: Closed pub on Tottenham Court Road
Greene King chief executive Nick Mackenzie railed against the measures announced by the Prime Minister (right)
The hospitality industry has borne the brunt of the harshest restrictions since the beginning of the pandemic – closed in both national lockdowns – leaving thousands of community pubs fighting for survival.
Nik Antona, chief executive of CAMRA, railed: ‘Pubs – particularly those which don’t serve food – are being offered up as a sacrificial lamb without any evidence or explanation as to why they are being treated more harshly than the likes of shops and gyms.’
Greene King chief executive Nick Mackenzie revealed this morning that there has only been a handful of cases across hundreds of the chain’s pubs since the summer.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘It is baffling that they (the Government) continue to single out the hospitality industry and particularly pubs.
‘The evidence we have from our own figures is that transmission levels are very low in pubs.
‘We’ve had less than 40 contacts from track and trace across our 1,500 pubs since we opened on July 6, and that’s a very common story across the sector.
‘And that’s why we get very frustrated by pubs being put front and centre in pretty much every announcement the Government makes around restrictions.’
Kate Nicholls, the head of UK Hospitality, also wrote on Twitter: ‘The ‘morale boosting’ Christmas plan was soul and business destroying for hospitality.
‘Could we have a morale boost in the form of help to get back trading.
‘We don’t want handouts – best support you can give us would be to let us open with our world best Covid secure protections.’
Pubs face losing sales of 180MILLION pints over festive period because families in five-day bubbles will be BANNED from visiting PUB
By Danyal Hussain for Mail Online
Pubs face missing out on sales of 180 million pints over the festive period, bosses have warned, after the government eased lockdown for Christmas but banned families from visiting the pub together.
According to guidance published on Tuesday, three households will be allowed to form ‘Christmas bubbles’ for five days over the festive period and visit each other’s homes and stay overnight.
However, they will not be able meet up with their bubbles inside pubs, hotels, retail venues, theatres or restaurants between December 23 and 27.
Pub bosses have slammed the government over the rules, describing them as a ‘betrayal’ and warning they could devastate the hospitality industry with analysis suggesting individual pub landlords could lose £50,000 in pints sales.
The British Beer and Pub Association says that at least 180 million fewer pints will be drunk in pubs in December because of the rules and the restrictions will mean that 90 per cent of venues will not be able to operate profitably.
JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has also warned the government’s policies could have a devastating effect on hospitality jobs.
JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin is one of several pub industry leaders to hit out at the government for not allowing Christmas bubbles to meet in pubs
Up to three households can gather at Christmas – but will not be able meet up with their Christmas bubbles inside pubs, hotels, retail, theatres or restaurants between December 23 and 27
He said in a statement: ‘No one in the Government seems to have any experience of running a business – and their current policies seem destined to cause the loss of a million jobs in hospitality, with further ‘ripple effect’ job losses throughout the economy.’
The association, meanwhile, has written to Rishi Sunak demanding greater financial support while accusing the government of inflicting ‘unnecessary and irreversible pain’ on the sector.
It has also demanded that the evidence behind the decision be published in full.
Chief executive Emma McClarkin said: ‘These plans for Christmas make a mockery of the extra restrictions being placed on pubs and the economic devastation they are facing this Christmas.
‘How can it be that pubs cannot properly open while households can mix in private settings?
‘The Government data has consistently shown that house-to-house transmission is one of the highest, whereas hospitality has accounted for as little as 2% of Covid incidences when open.
What are the UK-wide rules for Christmas?
- Three households will be allowed to form a ‘Christmas Bubble’ and meet indoors.
- Easing of rules will apply for five days, from December 23 to December 27.
- ‘Christmas Bubbles’ will be allowed to gather in private homes, in outdoor spaces and in places of worship.
- UK-wide nature of the plan means people will be allowed to travel across the country to meet with family.
- This includes to and from places in different tier levels, and between UK nations
- ‘Christmas Bubbles’ must be fixed and cannot be changed – households have to be exclusive.
- ‘Christmas Bubbles’ will not be allowed to meet in hospitality settings like pubs and restaurants.
- People in a bubble will not have to adhere to social distancing.
- But they are advised to exercise restraint and judgment if they plan to mix with vulnerable friends or family.
- Guidance on carol singing and other issues will be published later this week.
- Children whose parents are separated will be able to move between two separate bubbles.
‘Pubs are a controlled, safe and regulated environment to socialise in – following all Government guidelines and working with NHS track and trace. They are part of the solution for a safe and enjoyable Christmas, not the problem.
‘It seems the Government has chosen to inflict unnecessary pain and irreversible damage on our sector without publishing evidence alongside these decisions.’
The new Christmas bubble measures will be in place from Wednesday December 23 to Sunday December 27, paving the way for families in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to meet up.
Travel across tiers in England will also be allowed, as will journeys between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
But in a blow for the hospitality industry, the Christmas bubbles will only be allowed to meet up in private homes, places of worship and in outdoor public spaces.
Rules for pubs, restaurants and other venues will remain the same under whichever tier they find themselves in at the time.
In Tier 2 areas, this will mean that pubs can only sell alcohol if customers buy a substantial meal to go with their drinks. In Tier 3 zones, they will only be able to sell takeaway drinks.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, accused the Government of ‘muddled thinking’ over the exclusion of hospitality businesses from the relaxed Christmas rules.
She said: ‘This is rapidly turning into the nightmare before Christmas for hospitality. While no-one begrudges families getting together over the festive season, the safest place to do so would be in well-managed and controlled hospitality venues.
‘It is also surely better for hotels to be open and providing a place to stay than multiple households being cramped in a single house.’
Ms Nicholls added: ‘For the Government to exclude these businesses in these new rules demonstrates muddled thinking and will cause the sector yet more harm coming so soon after the announcement of the new tier restrictions.
‘Hospitality venues should be considered part of the solution for providing people a well-deserved safe and enjoyable Christmas, especially given that allowing multiple households to mix in the confines of private homes presents an exponentially greater risk.’
Labour MP Emma Hardy, who represents Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle, asked on Twitter: ‘Why can families not meet in a restaurant over the ‘relaxation’ period during Christmas? Our hospitality trade will not recover if they miss out on trade during this crucial period.’
Ms Hardy said she had submitted questions to the Government asking for ‘the evidence base’ for the decision.
The new Christmas bubble measures will be in place from Wednesday December 23 to Sunday December 27, paving the way for families in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to meet up
Ms McClarkin argued that pubs should be ‘fully compensated’ if they could not open over Christmas.
‘Christmas is the most important time of the year for trade in our sector,’ she added.
‘This year more than ever. Without it, thousands will not survive the winter unless the Government does the right thing and steps in with financial support to help them. That means grants that fully cover their fixed costs, like during the first lockdown.
‘We all need some festive cheer after this tough year – and we want everyone to be able to enjoy a beer in their local pub with family and friends this Christmas, safely.
‘After all, Christmas just won’t be the same if we can’t go to the local.’
Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said the Government had ‘ripped the vague remnants of Christmas spirit from the hands of many businesses within the sector’.
‘The new restrictions coming in next week and relaxation for many businesses over Christmas, and the intentional exclusion of the night time economy within the Christmas plans, has made many frustrated and angry at the lack of consideration for people and businesses,’ Mr Kill said.
He added: ‘The Government has simply got this wrong. It is an appalling misjudgement, at such an important time of year for everyone.
‘Our sector has worked incredibly hard alongside Government departments, to ensure that our businesses are Covid Safe, only to be hit again with unworkable restrictions that have no evidence base.
‘We have been intentionally sacrificed for other sectors to open during the festive period.’
Boris Johnson is also facing pressure from his own MPs over the new coronavirus tiers, set to be announced later in the week.
MPs have warned Mr Johnson that putting swathes of the country under draconian Tier Two and Three restrictions will be ‘catastrophic’ for businesses and spark a damaging new mutiny.
Ministers insist they are waiting for the latest local infection data to decide what brackets individual areas will be placed into, with the breakdown set to be published on Thursday.
But Whitehall sources said very few districts would in Tier One, where indoor socialising will be allowed.
An insider said it was ‘entirely possible that no one is in Tier One’ when the latest Covid figures are analysed Wednesday by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and chief medical officer Chris Whitty.
Senior Conservatives say the ‘mood music’ is that most places will be subject to the tougher levels – meaning heavy restrictions on bars and restaurants, as well as limits on households mixing.
There are complaints that the criteria being used to decide the Tier allocations are too vague, and the geographical areas too broad. MPs and London Mayor Sadiq Khan have been lobbying to stay out of the harshest levels.
Alarmingly for Mr Johnson, the chair of the powerful 1922 said yesterday afternoon that he is ‘inclined’ to oppose the measures in a vote next week.
Sir Graham Brady said he was concerned the damage being inflicted on the economy will leave a ‘legacy we could be living with for years to come’.
Mr Johnson confirmed that the blanket lockdown in England will end as scheduled next Wednesday, but cautioned that coronavirus curbs need to stay in place until Easter despite more good news on vaccines.