People have made the most of their final chance to hit the pubs and bars of Manchester before a strict tier three lockdown is imposed.
The area’s 2.8 million people have been plunged into the highest tier after weeks of wrangling over how much money is needed to help businesses survive.
Under the measures, pubs and bars will be closed for a 28 day period, unless they are serving substantial meals. Casinos, bingo halls and bookies are also being forced to shut.
Although many places already appeared empty last night, some revellers were pictured enjoying their final drinks before last orders.
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It comes ahead of a two week ‘firebreak’ lockdown starting in Wales at 6pm and Coventry, Stoke and Slough being moved into their two from Saturday.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced another £13billion could be spent over the next six months on helping businesses hardest hit during the pandemic.
The Job Support Scheme, which replaces the current furlough system from November 1, will be made more generous.
Grants of up to £2,100 a month are being made available for firms in tier two areas of England, aimed at helping hospitality and leisure venues which have seen takings plummet due to restrictions on households mixing.
In Manchester, some pubs have decided to try to stay open by offering ‘substantial meals’ but even then are still only allowed to welcome customers who live in the same household.
Owners used their last day’s trading to try to shift some of the leftover stock at cheap prices.
Bar Fringe – a Belgian-inspired real ale bar on Swan Street – opened from 2pm to sell its cask ales for just £2 a pint while others operated on a ‘pay what you feel’ basis.
The last time pubs were forced to close across the country back in March, it’s thought up to 50 million pints had to be wasted.
Among the revellers, a solidarity demonstration with Nigerian protesters was also held in the city ahead of the tightening of restrictions.
As the new restrictions began, landlords have described an ‘air of quiet resignation’ amid fears for the future.
The owner of the Castle Hotel in the Northern Quarter told metro.co.uk yesterday that he was determined to survive but there are some difficult weeks ahead.
Jonny Booth said, in particular, it was going to be difficult to pay staff anything until the new schemes start next month.
Manchester has now joined Merseyside and Lancashire in the third tier. It’s understood talks are continuing with leaders in Nottingham about the city becoming the first outside the north west to enter the harshest restrictions.
Around 2,000 venues in Manchester have been forced to close due to the new rules.
It’s been warned that one in five hospitality businesses could close permanently as a result of the long winter shut-down.
Mayor Andy Burnham had held out for £65million in support as part of the negotiations but talks collapsed and the Government initially only offered £22million before confirming an offer of £60million was still on the table.
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