Fears 'Christmas is at risk' as pub bosses warn tough Covid restrictions could end business

PUB bosses have warned Boris Johnson bringing back Covid restrictions this winter would drive many businesses "to the wall".

They're worried 'Plan B' measures including mask wearing, working from home, and vaccine passports would hit bookings.


Many watering holes and restaurants are still struggling to get back on their feet after the first two lockdowns.

But there are now fears a new set of restrictions will be needed to fight off growing infection rates.

New cases topped 50,000 yesterday for the first time since July 17.

That has prompted calls from NHS chiefs and scientists for the PM to trigger Plan B or go even further and reimpose lockdown.

But UK Hospitality chief Kate Nicholls warned the Christmas season is "desperately important" for firms' survival.

She said: "A lot of businesses are still fragile. Any knock at this point in time could have an impact on viability. People will just go to the wall."

Phil Urban, boss of pub and restaurant chain Mitchells & Butler, told The Guardian: "People are very nervous and if you move to Plan B it puts Christmas at risk.

"The industry is not out of the woods, and just as we get our momentum back we'd have the rug pulled out from under us."

Tory revolt

The PM is also under increasing pressure from senior backbench MPs to avoid the pressure to bring back restrictions.

Mark Harper, chair of the Covid Research Group, warned more curbs on daily life would "cripple parts of the economy".

Veteran Tory MP Sir Desmond Swayne said there's no need for Plan B and that he was "horrified" at the suggestion of another lockdown.

He told TalkRadio: "If we start imposing restrictions again we merely push those problems further on.

"There's a significant lobby out there who believe that the purpose of the nation is to accommodate the needs of the NHS."

Fellow backbencher Steve Baker added: "We cannot allow the liberties of the people of this country to be a tool of NHS capacity management.

"We really have to ask fundamental questions about how we're choosing to live. Let's not be shutting down business.

"There's a wide range of collateral damage that comes from lockdowns and restrictions and we can't afford to keep propping up businesses."

Today the care minister Gillian Keegan insisted that No 10 is fully focussed on ramping up the booster jabs rollout.

She said: "We laid out Plan A and Plan B and we have just started, five weeks ago, Plan A.

"The most important thing is to get those boosters rolled out. Of course we have Plan B there – it is there for a reason.

"But we know the vaccine is the best thing and we're really focusing on making sure that that is rolled out."

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