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Government Lockdown Communications Again Leave Restaurants Confused

The government’s own official Twitter handle has been sharing incorrect information this afternoon. In times of unprecedented and crippling uncertainty, that’s just great for restaurants

Stock Images Of Boris Johnson Stuck On Zip Line
Britain’s Coronavirus Communications Commander-in-Chief
Barcroft Media / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

For the absolute avoidance of doubt, national lockdown in England will end at 00.01 on Wednesday 2 December and will be replaced by new, local coronavirus restrictions. Like in the months of September and October, tiered restrictions will be implemented across the country — details of which will be announced on Thursday this week.

Now, that seems perfectly clear. It is after all based on information issued last night by the Prime Minister, backed up in new official government guidance, that the local tiered restrictions will replace national lockdown from Wednesday 2 December. This means: restaurants can, in tier one and two areas, in theory, reopen again from Wednesday next week.

But it wouldn’t be a week in this pandemic without a world-beating piece of comms from the government. No, ministers couldn’t help but add to confusion this afternoon — the official Twitter handle told numerous users that the national lockdown rules are in place “up to and including Wednesday 2 December.” This would mean that restaurants would not be able to reopen until at least Thursday 3 December. At the time of publication, at least three tweets containing what appears to be incorrect information, are still live.

That logic follows the timeline put in place when lockdown was announced at the end of October, when the Prime Minister said measures would be in place for four weeks, initially, beginning at 00.01 on Thursday 5 November. Alas, it would have been far too logical for those measures to have been in place for four weeks exactly. Nevertheless, the government’s official twitter handle thought it perfectly reasonable to share old guidance this afternoon.

New guidance, published last night, clearly states:

On Thursday 26 November the government will announce which areas are in which tier. You will be able to use the postcode checker to find out the restrictions in your area or an area you plan to visit. The NHS COVID-19 app will be updated on 2 December.

The new rules will come into effect from the beginning of Wednesday 2 December.

For the last three weeks, there has been some confusion about whether the national lockdown would indeed end on the 2 or 3 December. Last week, the Wolseley’s Jeremy King told Eater: “We need confirmation that we are re-opening ten days before the 3rd (assuming it is 3rd because some claim it is 2nd!) and the basis upon which we do.”

An official government tweet containing apparently false information
An official government tweet containing apparently false information

Yesterday, Eater London initially reported that restaurants could prepare to reopen from the 3 December, before later changing it, after government guidance had been published.

The Cabinet Office confirmed to Eater this afternoon that “The national restrictions will be lifted at 0001 on 02/12/20.” Wednesday it is, restaurant industry!

Now all London restaurants need to know is which tier the capital will be placed in from Wednesday 2 December.