Government's stricter tier system sparks fears for Shropshire's hospitality industry

Businesses in the hospitality sector fear the government's stricter tier system could have lasting damage and ruin Christmas for struggling restaurants, hotels and pubs.

Ludlow Brewery Company.
MD Gary Walters.
Ludlow Brewery Company. MD Gary Walters.

While the retail industry expressed relief that all shops will reopen on December 2 during the crucial Christmas trading weeks, the hospitality industry appears to have bore the brunt of toughened rules.

Pubs and restaurants will be limited to takeaway and delivery services in the highest-risk Tier 3 areas, a tightening of previous rules that allowed dining.

Gary Walters, owner of Ludlow Brewing Company, said: "It’s ridiculous the government won’t let us open as we are doing exactly the same as restaurants with seating and table service only. There’s a distinct lack of common sense in government policy.

"We’ve been jumping through hoops since March, how many more do we need to jump through? It’s going to be a miserable worrying winter for breweries and wet-led pubs in Tiers 2 and 3."

Lisa Snape, sales and marketing manager at The Best Western Valley Hotel in Ironbridge, said: "We fear we will not be able to reopen on December 3 if Telford is placed in Tier 3 and all our plans for Covid-friendly Christmas events will have to be shelved.

"Even the areas of the country that are in Tier 2 are going to have work under constraints again making it very difficult to provide guests with a festive gathering they were hoping for.

"This is yet again another blow for the hospitality sector, with no clear evidence that we are contributing to the spread of the virus.

"December is usually a special time of the year, where we thoroughly enjoy providing our guests with Christmas fun and festivities.

"Things are unfortunately still going to be very different this year. We want to get our staff back in work and deliver a Covid-safe Christmas that everyone deserves.

'Sucker punch'

"If we are allowed to open then we will be offering weddings and wakes for up to 15 guests."

Richard Sheehan, chief executive of Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, has warned that ministers cannot keep "turning businesses on and off like light switches" without risking severe and damaging consequences.

He added that Covid-secure businesses across the county would now be looking to the government for a plan that keeps them, and the economy, open throughout winter and beyond.

James Calder, chief executive of the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), said: “The announcement is a sucker punch for the independent brewing industry.

"The tougher restrictions being imposed on pubs at Tier 2 and Tier 3 mean that trade will be a trickle of what businesses need to survive the critical Christmas period. Wet-led pubs, by definition cannot offer a substantial meal.

"Yet again, we are not provided with the evidence to justify why tougher restrictions for hospitality are needed when we know hospitality is Covid-secure."

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