Christmas drinks cancelled as pubs forced to close in London and South East

Hundreds of Christmas drinks and dinners will be cancelled this week as London and the South East is plunged into tier three.

Greater London, Basildon, Brentwood, Harlow, Epping Forest, Castle Point, Rochford, Maldon, Braintree and Chelmsford, Thurrock, Southend-On-Sea, Broxbourne, Hertsmere, Watford and the Three Rivers will be put into England’s top tier of restrictions from 00.01am on Wednesday morning due to their high numbers of Covid-19 cases.

In London, the infection rate stood at 191.8 cases per 100,000 people on December 6, up from 158.1 the previous week, while there were 169.4 cases per 100,000 people in Essex in the seven days ending December 3.

Tier three forces all hospitality settings, such as pubs, cafes, bars and restaurants, to close, except for takeaway and delivery services.

People are also not allowed to meet anyone outside their household or bubble across any indoor setting, private garden or outdoor venues, although a group of up to six can meet in an outdoor public space.

The change in rules mean thousands of eateries could be left with piles of wasted food and drink as festive plans across the capital are forced to change. Pubs, restaurants and bars in tier three will have to remain closed for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, even as families are allowed to form ‘bubbles’ with up to three households between December 23 and 27.

The landlord of The Alexandria, in Wimbledon, wrote on Twitter this evening: ‘All that time we spent putting up the decs, all the stock in the cellar and the kitchen. All the rotas, all the bookings, all the deposits, all the planning. All the work we’ve done with training, distancing, compliance. Everything, just gone. With one days notice, Sheesh.’

Another pub worker added: ‘We take all the necessary measures, to minimise risk, yet, shops are packed with people, queues everywhere, Regent street blocked in weekend for shoppers. But yeah, close bars and restaurants, they’re the problem. How??’

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons today: ‘I know that this is difficult news and I know that it will mean plans disrupted and that for businesses affected, it will be a significant blow, but this action is absolutely essential not just to keep people safe, but because we’ve seen early action can prevent more damaging and longer lasting problems later.

‘These restrictions will come into force at midnight on Wednesday morning because when the virus moves quickly, we must move quickly too and we must take the actions that are not necessarily easy but are effective.’

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