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Wetherspoons boss warns new Covid restrictions would be 'devastating' for pubs and restaurants

Pubs and hospitality businesses could be wiped out by further coronavirus restrictions, the boss of Wetherspoons has said.

Ministers are considering new measures, including a temporary two or three-week ‘circuit break’ in an attempt to break the virus’ chain of transmission.

The move could lead to pubs and restaurants being ordered to close or face a 10pm curfew, with the latter measure already in place in some areas of the north of England.

Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin said further restrictions would be 'even more devastating' for a sector hit hard by the pandemic as ministers debates whether to enter a second lockdown

Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin said further restrictions would be ‘even more devastating’ for a sector hit hard by the pandemic as ministers debates whether to enter a second lockdown

Ministers are considering new measures this weekend, including a temporary two or three-week 'circuit break' in an attempt to break the virus' chain of transmission as cases increase

Ministers are considering new measures this weekend, including a temporary two or three-week ‘circuit break’ in an attempt to break the virus’ chain of transmission as cases increase

Tim Martin, who employs 43,000 people in Wetherspoon’s pubs and hotels, told The Sunday Times further restrictions would be ‘even more devastating’ for a sector hit hard by the pandemic.

Greene King chief executive Nick Mackenzie, who is responsible for staff at 2,700 hospitality businesses, told the paper the Government needed to provide further clarity and assistance.

‘The sector is fighting for survival – we are already seeing pubs in areas where there are additional restrictions are performing less well, especially those in Scotland,’ Mackenzie said.

‘New measures such as a 10pm curfew will cause further damage and hit city-centre pubs most, especially in London.’

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of lobby group UK Hospitality, warned that the 900,000 hospitality workers who are currently on furlough are at risk.

She added that venues where curfews had been imposed were suffering a 40% to 50% reduction in trade. 

The warnings come as London mayor Sadiq Khan urged ministers to extend the latest regional restrictions to cover the capital as well.

The government is in the middle of a debate this weekend over whether to introduce a second lockdown that would devastate the economy.

Covid sufferers could be fined up to £10,000 if they leave their house when they are meant to be self-isolating under draconian new rules being introduced by Boris Johnson.

Greene King boss Nick Mackenzie has said the government needs to provide more clarity

Greene King boss Nick Mackenzie has said the government needs to provide more clarity

The Prime Minister announced that he was creating a new legal duty for people to self-isolate if they test positive for the virus or are told to do so by Test and Trace staff.

Meanwhile, under a ‘carrot and stick’ approach, 4 million people on low incomes who cannot work from home will receive a £500 lump sum if forced to self-isolate.

But fines for those breaching the rules, which come into effect a week tomorrow, will start at £1,000 – rising to £10,000 for repeat offenders and ‘the most egregious breaches’, which would include business owners who threaten self-isolating staff with redundancy if they do not come to work.

Plenty of people were seen in on Saturday in large crowds at Stables Market in Camden, London, and in Nottingham, where people hit the pubs before they potentially close their doors again.

Long queues were seen around Nottingham, with security having to step in and ask people to space out more due to zero social distancing going on. Police and community protection were doing patrols.

A sharp rise in the number of cases over recent weeks has triggered alarm in Downing Street, with the Government’s scientific advisers pushing for a ‘circuit breaking’ second lockdown – but Ministers led by Chancellor Rishi Sunak are warning of the devastating economic impact.

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