Industry leaders have called regional restrictions set to replace England’s lockdown next week a “mixed bag”.
Retailers were relieved that all shops would be able to open, but pubs said that plans to ban the sale of alcohol in Tier 2 areas, unless it is sold with a big meal, would “destroy our sector”.
Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, said that companies needed to know as swiftly as possible which regions would fall into each tier.
Roger Barker, director of policy at the Institute of Directors, said that proposed restrictions would leave the hospitality sector businesses “reeling” and he urged ministers to extend insolvency protections until the spring.
Adam Marshall, of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Ministers can’t simply keep switching businesses on and off like a light switch without expecting severe consequences. Covid-secure businesses will be looking to the government for a plan that keeps them, and the economy, open throughout winter and beyond.”
The CBI said: “Harsh measures and ongoing closures will continue to risk business failures in many sectors.”
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said that the decision to “keep all of retail open” would save jobs over the weeks to come.
Emma McClarkin, of the British Beer and Pub Association, said that the new measures “unfairly” targeted pubs and would eradicate the viability of at least 90 per cent in Tiers 2 and 3. “If these tighter tier restrictions are forced upon us, far more government financial support will be needed to avoid the resulting carnage.”
The Institute of Economic Affairs, the think tank, said that there was “no scientific basis” for insisting that drinks should be served with food. Christopher Snowdon, its head of lifestyle economics, said that Tier 2 restrictions were “a death sentence for countless pubs and restaurants”.