In order to halt the spread of COVID-19, England will enter its second national lockdown for four weeks from tomorrow night. Here’s what that means for London’s restaurants, bars, pubs, cafes — and their employees.
When does it start?
Midnight on Wednesday 4 November. But because restaurants, pubs, and bars are under a 10 p.m. curfew, they will close then.
What can diners do before then?
Up until 10 p.m. on Wednesday 4 November, in London, the tier 2 coronavirus restrictions apply. That means diners can eat inside a restaurant with someone else from their own household or support bubble, or outside with individuals from other households (to a maximum of six persons.)
From Thursday 5 November, can restaurants open for dine-in customers?
Can restaurants open for takeaway by collection?
Yes. Hot food and groceries can be sold.
Can restaurants do delivery?
Can they sell alcohol?
No, but. “Takeaway of alcohol will not be allowed,” government guidance states. It is unclear whether this rule applies only to open containers. It is likely that off-sales are permitted, meaning that, for example, a bottle of wine can be sold if unopened, but a pint of beer cannot be bought for consumption off-premises.
When does this lockdown end?
It is scheduled to end on Wednesday 2 December, but could be extended, depending on the prevalence and rate of infection of COVID-19. Cabinet office minister Michael Gove has already hinted that lockdown could last longer than the planned four week period. Chancellor Rishi Sunak also refused to rule out an extension.
What happens when it ends?
As of now, it is thought that London will revert back to tier 2 coronavirus restrictions. But that is subject to change.
Will restaurants and their employees receive financial support throughout this period of mandated closure?
Yes. The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS or “furlough”) has been reset and extended to cover 80 percent of the wages of those unable to work (up to the value of £2,500) while a business is closed.
Does the restaurant have to contribute to the wages of furloughed employees?
Although the CJRS had been amended to increase employer contributions in the months of August, September, and October, and was due to be replaced by the Job Support Scheme from 1 November, it has been reset for this lockdown — with the government paying 80 percent of wages until at least Wednesday 2 December. Employers pay national insurance and employer pension contributions.
Who is eligible for furlough?
Any employee registered onto a company payroll by Friday 30 October, the day before new restrictions were announced, is eligible for full furlough.
What if staff were recently made redundant?
Those employed as of 23 September and on the payroll on or before Friday 30 October can be rehired and subsequently furloughed by the employer.
Have any new support measures been introduced for business owners?
No, not yet. Still in place is a business rates holiday, VAT cut, and rent forfeiture moratorium (ban on evictions), all of which the hospitality industry wants to see extended well into 2021.
Can hospitality businesses apply for grants if they are forced to close?
Yes, business premises forced to close in England are to receive grants worth up to £3,000 per month under the Local Restrictions Support Grant.