Businesses fear for future as 10pm curfew comes into force

Businesses across the South East say they fear for their future as the 10pm curfew, announced by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday, comes into force.

The first day of early closures, on Thursday night, saw many businesses struggle with reduced customer numbers.

Many seats were empty at this bar in Southampton. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Matt Day, who is the General Manager at Café Parfait in Southampton, said at 9pm he had just 8 customers compared to the 800 students who were there this time last year.

He said the club is running "out of desperation" and is relying on local customers. 

He added: "If it carries on like this for the six months they're saying, then there will be no business and I'm sure that will be the same for 70 or 80% of these independents, as there's no cash flow to keep this place going. There's not been any help. The new scheme doesn't help us at all because it is retaining staff but costing more."

Canterbury city centre was almost deserted last night too as bars, which usually shut at around 2:30am, closed their doors early.

Dean Griffiths, who is the General Manager at The Pound Bar, said job losses were "inevitable".

Some students who did decide to head out on Thursday night said they were "disappointed" with the rules as they won't have the same experience as everyone else but they can do gatherings of six people at a social distance at home.

The latest restriction comes after the UK’s four chief medical officers recommended raising the Covid alert level from three to four – the second highest – indicating the “epidemic is in general circulation; transmission is high or rising exponentially”.

On Monday, chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance warned the UK could see 50,000 Covid-19 cases a day by mid-October and a daily death toll of 200 or more a month later unless urgent action is taken.

They said the number of cases is currently doubling around every seven days.

Credit: ITV News Meridian

A Number 10 spokesperson said: “No-one underestimates the challenges the new measures will pose to many individuals and businesses.

“We know this won’t be easy, but we must take further action to control the resurgence in cases of the virus and protect the NHS.”

The UK currently has the third highest infection rate in Europe with a rate of 70.7 cases per 100,000 population.