BRADFORD Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe, as well as figures from the district’s business community, have reacted to the new coronavirus restrictions which have been introduced this week.
Parts of West Yorkshire, including the Bradford district, are under new localised restrictions, which include not being able to visit people you do not live with inside a private home or garden, unless they are part of your support bubble.
The new measures also mean that, from tomorrow, pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants in England will have to close by 10pm, while they must now also provide table service only.
Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe gave her thoughts on the new restrictions in a statement yesterday.
She said: “The government’s message is clear: we are going to have to live with this virus for many months to come. As a district, this means we must be ever-vigilant to keep the virus at bay. We all need to take responsibility for each other’s safety and show determination and resilience, working together over the winter to beat this virus.
“We know infection rates are rising both here in our district, as well as nationally. Nobody wants additional restrictions, but we must get on top of the infection rates, so that we prevent further economic restrictions which put more jobs at risk. We ask that everyone in our district follows these new rules.
“The government said these restrictions might last for up to six months. What we urgently need from the government is a clear commitment on the financial support package for businesses in our district who have already endured restrictions and the impacts of COVID-19 since March.
“I also repeat my call for the government to get a grip of the national testing programme and a more effective test and trace system which includes a strong local dimension. It’s vital that we speed up targeted testing in our communities, and to do that, government need to make sure the council has the testing kits and resources to continue to fight the virus over the coming months.
“We can all take simple steps. I urge everyone in our district to follow the COVID code: regular hand-washing, wearing a face covering indoors and keeping two metres apart from each other are all fundamental to preventing the spread of the virus, protecting our loved ones and sustaining jobs.”
The manager of a Saltaire pub added that the 10pm curfew will have a “big impact” on the district’s hospitality industry.
“When we re-opened in July, people didn’t all come flooding in straight away, as they were scared, but it was lovely for them to come back and socialise”, said Donna Hamilton, manager at Salt Cellar.
“People don’t just come to pubs for a drink, but for the social aspect. Some people live alone and didn’t see anyone over lockdown, and that affects mental health.
“It would be a shame to see pubs crumble because of this. It’s been a struggle but we have to adhere to these rules so we can get rid of the virus and move on.
“We’ve had table service only from day one and have hand sanitising stations and social distancing. Most pubs have also had these measures in place.”
Steve Holt, Owner and Director of Kirkstall Brewery, which runs the Black Horse in Otley and the soon to re-open Sparrow on North Parade, said: “The late night curfew has not been thought through well. If pubs shut at 10pm, a lot of people will be out on the streets together and they’ll go back to someone’s home where there’s no hand sanitiser or social distancing.
“It’s doesn’t seem to make sense when bars and pubs have worked so hard to make changes.
“The Black Horse has quite a large outdoor eating and drinking area and stays open late, so it will have an impact, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights when we close at midnight. We will lose two hours of trade.
“We’ve invested a lot to ensure the safety of our customers. We’re being really strict as an industry and are acting more responsibly than any other sector, but it seems like we’re being picked on.”
William Wagstaff, the licensee of the Beehive in Shipley, seemed to echo this view, calling the curfew “rather ludicrous”,
“It’s highly damaging for the trade. It’s going to encourage a lot of young people, who come out late anyway, to drink at home and have parties”, he said.
“It’s not going to make much difference for food pubs because many of them shut at 10pm anyway, but it could be the last nail in the coffin for the ‘wet-led’ pubs. The pubs are devastated already and many of them are struggling to break even.
“A lot of pubs will try to open earlier to change opening hours to early in the shifts, so staff can continue to get their wages and keep money in their pocket. But for pubs that are open until 1am, those last three hours are key hours and could further damage their custom.”
Trevor Higgins, Chief Executive of Bradford Breakthrough, said: “These new rules will have a major impact on the hospitality industry, and could cause some places to close for good.
“But, the question is, is there any other option? We can see from the evidence from experts that the cause of the increasing rate of infection was caused by young people this time.
“If I had to make the decision, I think the curfew would be the sensible thing to do, because the last thing we’d want is to go into another national lockdown. That would be extremely difficult to come out of and would be disastrous for businesses.
“There is now also the view that if you can work from home, then you should. My view is that if you can work from home with no impact on your job, that’s all well and good.
“But some businesses aren’t able to do that, so the fact it is a recommendation, rather than a stringent decision, is sensible, I think.
“I think coronavirus is a serious issue we all have to take responsibility for. The use of masks is very important and can only do good and help curb the virus, unless you are exempt from wearing one, of course.”