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

Coronavirus loopholes and a new package of support measures were the headlines of another changeable week

Yotam Ottolenghi standing in Parliament Square, wearing a mask
Yotam Ottolenghi joined the protest against hospitality restrictions at the start of the week

The first week of trading under tier two coronavirus restrictions alongside the extant 10 p.m. hospitality curfew has been difficult for London’s restaurants, pubs, and bars. While new job support measures may provide a little relief, it is ultimately those two policies that are seriously stifling trade, and they again dominated the conversation this week in the London restaurant world.

  • By the time the week ended, they — and the rest of the London restaurant world — had improved, if not ideal job support and grants for tier two. Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s improvement on the job support scheme somewhat reduces the conflict between measures that reduce trade and the “viable jobs” that the support scheme is designed for, but it follows the government trend of introducing measures after the problems they are designed to fix have already done damage.

  • The severity of that potential damage was the headline for hospitality trade bodies this week, with U.K. Hospitality joining British Institute of Innkeeping, and the British Beer & Pub Association in warning that 750,000 hospitality jobs were at serious risk before Sunak announced the new package. That package won’t help positions already unable to work hours.

  • Then, before Sunak announced his package, he met with hospitality representatives in a closed branch of pizza restaurant Franco Manca. At 8 a.m. in the morning the meeting was set up with participants two metres apart, in a clearly staged photo-op for a restaurant-oriented policy being debated inside, well, a restaurant. After a media interview in which Sky’s Kay Burley asked minister Stephen Barclay why Rishi Sunak had met with colleagues in a restaurant under tier 2 regulations, and Barclay said people can, the inevitable “one rule for them” backlash started. But Sunak wasn’t in an open restaurant, and he wasn’t having lunch — the problem, again, was the bungling nature of government coronavirus policy, whose inconsistencies lead people to ask questions about proof of address in pubs.

Fresh restaurant guides on where to eat in London...

Until next week, eat well and be safe.

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