As you will know, on 4 January 2021, the Prime Minister announced a new national lockdown in England. This, of course, supersedes the curfew and other restrictions on businesses in the night-time economy. Under this lockdown, hospitality venues such as restaurants, bars and pubs, as well as entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas and casinos, are required to remain closed. Hospitality venues are allowed to provide food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway until 11pm, as well as for click-and-collect and drive-through. Venues such as nightclubs must continue to remain closed, as they did in all tiers under the system of local lockdowns
I support the national lockdown. Restrictions are necessary to protect our health and stop the NHS from being overwhelmed. And the sooner we get the virus under control so we can get Britain vaccinated, the sooner we can re-open the economy, including businesses in the night-time sector.
I nevertheless appreciate the impact that lockdown measures are having on the night-time economy. I therefore agree that in the meantime, it is vital that we ensure the package of economic measures supports businesses through the crisis and reflects the severity of restrictions. Unfortunately, I believe the support provided so far has been inadequate to the scale of the challenge businesses are facing, putting many at risk of going to the wall. For example, the vast majority of businesses are receiving much less support through the most recent one-off grant than they did during the first lockdown in March last year, despite their cashflow now being much more precarious. In addition, five out of six hospitality businesses will not be eligible for the highest level of support.
For months, I have supported calls for the Government to get ahead of this crisis and to target support at the sectors it has hit hardest – such as the night-time economy. I can therefore assure you that I will continue to press the Government for action on this issue and to push for a proper plan to protect jobs and businesses through this national lockdown and put Britain back on the path to a better, more secure recovery.