Manchester restaurants facing weeks of cancelled bookings because of new restrictions

Manchester City Centre Credit: ITV News

Restaurants and pubs in Manchester are facing weeks of cancelled bookings, a hospitality boss has said, as confusion over new restrictions is causing panic among customers.

Sacha Lord, night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, said one restaurant in the city has had 100 bookings cancelled over the next three weeks.

It comes after the Government announced local lockdown measures in Greater Manchester and parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire, banning people from different households meeting indoors or in gardens following a spike in virus cases.

The new rules also ban members of two different households from mixing in pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues, but these businesses will remain open for those visiting individually or from the same household.

Mr Lord, founder of Parklife festival and the Warehouse Project, feared the new rules could lead to pubs, restaurants and bars closing their doors once again due to a reduced footfall, and some even permanently.

"There's a lot of panic at the moment," he told PA news agency.

"The night time economy only opened a few weeks ago and is already on its knees, this feels like the final hammer blow."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said two households can still meet "at a social distance in a public place outdoors" such as a park, but meeting another household in pub gardens or outdoor restaurant space is not allowed in the newly restricted area of the North West.

Mr Lord criticised the Government over the timing of the announcement, which was made on Thursday evening a few hours before coming into effect at midnight.

Maurizio Cecco, owner of Salvi's in Manchester, said 70% of bookings at the Italian restaurant have been cancelled as a result of the new restrictions.

He told PA: "Today should be the hottest day of the year and we brought more stock in and things like that, but it's not as busy as I thought it should be because of last night.

"We should protect ourselves and the Government should take action, but we needed to know sooner.

"They waited until the last minute, businesses can't change everything in no time."

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said the Government was right to take action after it became clear that the picture on Covid-19 cases had changed.