It comes as UK government officials yesterday (17 December) announced that the majority of the South East and East of England would enter Tier 3 this weekend, as coronavirus cases continue to rise in many parts of the country.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the increased restrictions were necessary in order to control the virus, adding that “no one wants tougher restrictions any longer than necessary”.
Areas to be placed into Tier 3 include: Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Peterborough, the whole of Hertfordshire, Surrey (except Waverley) Hastings and Rother, Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant.
As part of the tightened restrictions, all hospitality venues must close and will only be able to remain open for takeaway and delivery.
UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls said: “Placing more areas into tier 3 is only going to ruin Christmas for those businesses entering and continued despair and heartbreak for those hard-pressed businesses that had hoped they might move into tier 2.
“Businesses will have bought stock which will now go to waste and more people will lose work at a stressful time. Hotels are now facing a deluge of short-notice cancellations because of the tightening of restrictions. What was already looking like a bleak Christmas is now looking like a total write-off.”
She added: “This will be a bitter blow for businesses that would have been hoping to make the best of a difficult Christmas period. The increased restrictions, effectively a total shutdown for most, will make it even more difficult for businesses to salvage what little they can from what should be a busy period.
“More financial support must be forthcoming if we are to have any hope that these businesses will survive. They can trade their way out of danger next year only if they are still around to do so.”