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Here’s What Happened in the London Restaurant World Last Week

Once again left in limbo over oncoming closures, restaurants struggle through the new curfew

A Soho bar with people outside at night before the curfew
Before the curfew hits
Kirsty O’Connor/PA Images via Getty Images

The last three weeks of London restaurant news round-ups have concluded with the feeling that “two parallel realities are in play at once.” As coronavirus cases continue to rise in the U.K., and the government introduces a coronavirus curfew for restaurants, pubs, and bars, this feeling gets starker, with the government seemingly readying hospitality for lockdowns without showing when, where, or why.





  • There will be a vote on the curfew in the House of Commons next week, with Conservative and Labour MPs alike voicing discontent with the measure. While it is ultimately unlikely that the government will be defeated when it holds an 80-seat majority, the unpopularity of both the policy and its implementation is giving Boris Johnson serious problems.

  • But restaurants may have bigger problems ahead. On Thursday and Friday, the government leaked and then announced two pieces of news. First, that restaurant, pub, and bar closures are being considered as COVID-19 curbs. Second, that the government will pay two-thirds of employees’ wages when businesses are forced to shut down, entirely, by COVID-19 curbs. Putting aside whether or not coronavirus transmission is significantly connected to going out to eat, this leaves significant disparities between businesses’ recourse to government support depending on where they are, what they serve, and how late they would normally open. A business that relies on late-night food trade in an area with a curfew, but not a lockdown, and therefore cannot offer employees a third of their hours, could not apply for job support after 31 October. A business open all day, in an area with a lockdown, fully closed, could. It’s hard to see why one COVID-19 public health measure that severely depresses revenue merits employment support, and one does not.


  • Great British Bake Off update: Bread Week was the flattest the show has been in a long time; Paul Hollywood thinks that rainbow iconography represents the NHS before the LGBTQI+ movement; here’s hoping for better next week.


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Until next week, eat well and be safe.

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