Businesses 'can't survive' new restrictions after rise in coronavirus cases

Catering businesses will be badly affected by the new restrictions. Credit: ITV News Meridian

New restrictions on social gatherings in England, announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday, has left businesses across the South East worried for their future.

Social gatherings of more than six people will be illegal in England "for the forseeable future" from Monday as the Government seeks to curb the rise in coronavirus cases.

The change in the law comes after the number of daily positive Covid-19 cases in the UK rose to almost 3,000.

The legal limit on social gatherings will be reduced from 30 people to six.

It will apply to gatherings indoors and outdoors – including private homes, as well as parks, pubs and restaurants.

Wednesday's announcement will impact many areas of life including birthday parties and charity fundraising events.

  • Children's parties

Rosie Marsh from Haywards Heath in West Sussex fears her children's party business can't survive any more rule changes. 

She has been holding socially distanced parties for up to 10 children, but now that will be banned.

To have parties for six children when children at school are in a bubble of up to 30 sometimes, it's just going to be a really difficult thing for us to try and convince people to do. It's put us in an almost impossible position as a business.

Rosie Marsh, Party organiser

  • Birthday celebrations

Sharon Clarke from Reading has been planning a double celebration to mark her mum's 80th birthday and her parent's diamond wedding anniversary this month. 

The food and decorations have all been bought. She says it's "more than disappointment".

  • Catering

Martin Smith and Pete Holding have spent the day cancelling bookings at the New Forest Catering Company.

They had a number of events, including garden parties and sport club dinners, booked over the next couple of months.

They say they've lost at least 12 to 15 events over the next couple of months.

We were starting to see people coming back, we were starting to see enquiry levels pick up and we were looking forward to doing a lot more in terms of events. But now all that's drained away and it's looking very bleak for the rest of the year.

Pete Holding, Event organiser

  • Charity fundraising

Katy Honess had just booked a venue near Havant in Hampshire for a Macmillan fundraising coffee morning. 

She was hoping to welcome up to 30 guests.

The new 'rule of six' is likely to be in place for several months.

England's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said the new restrictions will last for a "block of time" but "putting an exact time on it is very difficult."

He said people should not expect it to be a few weeks - it will certainly be longer though restrictions will be reviewed "constantly".Despite Boris Johnson recently saying he hopes for "normality" by Christmas, the time frame of restrictions means large festive family gatherings planned for December 25 could be cancelled.

But he said he is "hopeful" that some aspects of life could be "back to normal by Christmas".