London’s restaurants, cafes, pubs, and bars are now allowed to open, under coronavirus tier two restrictions. Here’s what happened during another week of reopening.
- As restaurants reopened from 2 December, a familiar sense of uncertainty hung in the air. Increasingly promising vaccine news suggests that making it through to spring 2021 will represent surviving a cataclysmic 12 months. But “making it” entails trading through what is traditionally the busiest time of year under public health restrictions, while uncertain whether or not the rent moratorium which is keeping thousands of businesses from the brink will be extended. It expires in January; without an extension or a back rent solution, there will be a bloodbath. Here’s what that reopening looked like across the city.
- As a reminder: here’s a concise, straightforward explainer of everything tier two means for dining out in London.
- The days leading up to reopening were mired in now-familiar mixed messaging from the government over restrictions. A minister said Scotch eggs were substantial meals; Downing Street said they were not. The ontology of egg wrapped in sausage is ultimately trivial, but it served to illustrate how the government’s strategy has itself long been mired in reactive, inadequate policy making.
- Then the government released a report on coronavirus transmission in hospitality that confirmed what seemed obvious: transmission in the sector being low is a result of public health restrictions either mandated or enforced by the government. But it didn’t package it that way — it instead illustrated that without restrictions, transmission is high, creating further discord that could have been avoided with some elementary repackaging. Nonetheless, it trade body U.K. Hospitality blasted government restrictions on hospitality.
- Then Boris Johnson announced a grant for “wet” pubs. “Wet” pubs do not serve food, and thus must close under both tier two and tier three coronavirus restrictions. The grant is ... £1,000, which does not touch the sides for pubs and their supply chain.
- And then, some faint hope. First Tesco, and then Aldi, Morrisons, and Sainsbury’s, pledged to “repay” hundreds of millions in coronavirus business rate relief. It was a saving — but there is money going to the government, and one place it might be used is in a restaurant and pub rent bail out. Early days, but U.K. Hospitality were quick to stake their claim.
- Coronavirus’ impact on food poverty in the U.K. has been widely documented. This week, the biggest food bank network in the country expressed concern that Universal Credit repayments were preventing people from affording to feed themselves.
- After a Masterchef: The Professionals contestant and producers presented “Asian” food as a “dirty” monolith to be refined, cooks and diners took hold of the narrative on Instagram with the #eseaeats hashtag.
- Elsewhere: world-famous, flash Italian restaurant The River Cafe announces a new opening out of nowhere; and an alternative advent calendar guide for those bored of chocolate miniatures.
Where to eat in London..
- Outdoor dining is the safest way to eat in the city.
- Outdoor dining, when it’s raining.
- The best restaurants for delivery and takeaway.
- The most interesting restaurant meal kits to order.
- London’s best new restaurants, for those December reservations.
- Coffee with a different kind of buzz: the best new cafes in London.
Until next week, eat well and be safe.