Leeds pubs and bars react as Tier 3 rule remains meaning they can't open to customers at Christmas

Leeds will remain in Tier 3 after Thursday's review which means pubs, bars and restaurants must remain closed.

By Immy Share
Thursday, 17th December 2020, 3:58 pm
Pubs and bars closing in Leeds before lockdown (photo: Danny Lawson/ PA Wire)
Pubs and bars closing in Leeds before lockdown (photo: Danny Lawson/ PA Wire)

Speaking to Commons, Matt Hancock praised areas under Tier 3 restrictions for their efforts in lowering coronavirus rates.

He praised people in areas under Tier 3 restrictions for their efforts in reducing coronavirus rates, but said we are "For the vast majority of places in Tier 3 we’re not making a change today."

Only, Bristol and North Somerset will move from Tier 3 to Tier 2.

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This means Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale and Wakefield will remain in Tier 3.

Hospitality settings will only be permitted to continue sales by takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery services.

This means that there is no change to the rules already in place for hospitality across Leeds.

Settings include those such as pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes.

--> Why Leeds is staying in Tier 3Bruce Lerman, co-owner of Hedonist Bar on Briggate in Leeds, said: "I knew it was coming, I didn't expect anything less.

"I could just sense it.

"And to be honest, we weren't going to open anyway because it's safer for our staff to stay on furlough than for us to risk opening over Christmas and not have any trade.

"We're a wet venue so it would have been too risky."

Martin Greenhow is the owner of Mojo bars across the country including one on Merrion street in Leeds.

He said: "My position is that even with my bar open in Tier 2 in Harrogate, it's far from ideal and that's an understatement.

"Even if Leeds had gone into Tier 2 the restrictions make it unviable to open and it's a game of calculating whether we lose less for being open or closed as opposed to actually being able to break even or make a profit.

"We would be foregoing grants and furlough to open and actually it's not worth the effort.

"We sit and we wait until we go again."

Jonathan Simons is the owner of Distrikt Bar on Duncan Street in Leeds.

He said: "The news is disastrous I'm afraid to say.

"We were so excited about re-opening and we had spent a lot of money getting everything implemented for opening.

“It feels like the government is suffocating hospitality and bars are really suffering."

Tier 3 is the highest alert level to be in place across England and the whole of West Yorkshire will stay under the strict ‘Very High’ restrictions.

Pubs and bars in the city have now not been able to open since before the national lockdown which came in on November 5.

Tom Riordan, CEO of Leeds Council, said: "We put a strong and balanced case forward about whether Leeds could go into Tier 2.

"We are disappointed but maybe not surprised but we know this is no consolation for those in hospitality who have worked so hard to be ready to reopen."

Adam Jones, founder of Tattu Restaurant in Leeds, said: “If we must remain closed in the interest of public health, businesses that cannot operate within the current restrictions need to see proportionate support.

"The misconceptions around the support provided to hospitality to date simply don’t paint a clear picture of the reality for businesses in Tier 3.

"Current local restrictions grants are wholly inadequate to help with the mounting ongoing costs of forced closure, which for Tattu have grown to more than £700,000 since March.

“Without specific sector evidence, there’s a common perception that our industry is being unfairly targeted whilst other sectors have been allowed to reopen unchecked. Especially given the huge investment into ‘Covid secure’ compliance systems that operators at all levels made to ensure our venues were as safe as possible.

“We need to see evidence of long-term solutions. The current VAT cuts and rates relief are wholly insufficient if more than half of the sector can’t benefit from them due to forced closure. Business rates holidays are essential for hospitality in 2021, with more targeted support for disproportionately disadvantaged businesses.

"The Furlough Retention Bonus was an important lifeline that many businesses had built into their cashflow.

"Its reintroduction would help offset the costs of holiday accruals, national insurance contributions and processing costs of keeping staff employed throughout the crisis.

“Above all, we need to see better communication with our industry and in our regions.

"There has been a dangerous impact on the mental health of those learning the fate of their business through leaks to press before official announcements are made.

"This irresponsible governance of our livelihoods has been equally as torturous as the restrictions themselves, and yet it is completely avoidable.”

The leader of Leeds City Council, Judith Blake, said: "As Leeds remains in Tier 3, individuals, businesses and organisations in the city continue to feel the negative impact of this pandemic.

"Many people are really struggling with worries about their health and finances.

"During this next phase, let’s be kind to each other, help each other stay safe and support those who need our help."

The current rate in Leeds as of Thursday is 138.2 and the over 60s rate has gone down by 14 per cent over the last week.

Other restrictions include:- You must not meet socially indoors or in most outdoor places with anybody you do not live with, or who is not in your support bubble, this includes in any private garden or at most outdoor venues

- You must not socialise in a group of more than six in some other outdoor public spaces, including parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, a public garden, grounds of a heritage site or castle, or a sports facility – this is called the ‘rule of six’

Across all tiers:

- People can leave their homes for any purpose and can socialise in outdoor places, subject to the rule of six

- Collective worship and weddings can continue

- Shops and wider leisure facilities including gyms can stay open

- Hairdressers and beauty salons can stay open