Manchester joins Lancashire, Hull, Wolverhampton, Newcastle and more...

It has felt like the whole of the UK’s hospitality industry has been holding its breath since Boris Johnson’s tier-ful teaser on Monday. 

But what does it mean? Is it just more lockdown for us in the North?

Restaurant and bar owners have been hovering their fingers over the ‘order more stock’ button, their staff wondering whether they’ll be back at work or not and we're all wondering whether we’ll get to enjoy visiting our favourite restaurants again.

Today’s big announcement about which tiers each region will fall into once lockdown ends on December 2nd has felt like a reverse National Lottery announcement. Will our numbers come up (and are they going down)? Will restaurants be allowed to experience the slightly extended curfew that gives restaurants the breathing room to take more safe and hygienic bookings, or will their shutters remain locked? 

The twinkly lights, festive drinks and restorative Xmas shopping lunches warm our communities in the depths of the bleak midwinter. Now that it has been confirmed that Manchester has been plunged into a now even stricter tier three, it’s going to be pretty difficult to rouse much Xmas spirit - regardless of whether you plan to form a ‘Christmas bubble.’

We expected the worst, hoped for the best and got… the worst. Manchester will be in Tier 3 - as announced by the BBC just before 11:30am today - and the forecast is bleaker than bleak for our beloved hospitality scene. 

While the furlough scheme continuing til March might be a lifeline for some, many businesses will just not survive this final blow at a time of year that is hugely important for this industry.

But what does it mean? Is it just more lockdown for us in the North?

In Tier 3:

  • Non-essential shops, gyms and hairdressers can reopen
  • Pubs and restaurants must remain closed but can continue to offer takeaway, drive through, click and collect or delivery
  • No indoor mixing of households except support bubbles
  • Up to six people can meet outdoors but only in public spaces (not private gardens)
  • Theatres, cinemas, bowling alleys, casinos etc. must remain closed
  • Hotels remain closed
  • Outdoor sports allowed but no spectators
  • Travel should be avoided

More details on the government website here.

Tier 3 regions will also be visited by the army who will help with mass testing using lateral test kits which give an answer within an hour. In Liverpool, where community testing was piloted, this led to the discovery of a huge number of COVID-positive people with no symptoms who were asked to isolate. This helped to dramatically bring down their numbers and means that they have come out of lockdown into Tier 2.

It's not what we wanted and no doubt the whole city is feeling pretty fed up right now, but we will continue to support our local hospitality businesses as much as we can. We urge you to do the same if your own funds allow. 

Confidentials will continue to support local restaurants and bars by telling their stories and making sure our readers know about how they can support their favourite venues by purchasing vouchers, hampers, cook at home boxes, gifts, cocktail sets and more.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, responded with a statement that said: 'It is deeply disappointing that we have been placed in Tier Three when we have seen a very significant reduction in infection levels, bringing Manchester close to the national average, and we have been making an evidence-based case to government that we should be moved into Tier Two. We expect to continue making that progress - and will keep pressing that case for an easing of restrictions. We hope for better news in two weeks' time when the tiers are reviewed. 

'We will also continue to campaign for Covid-safe businesses to remain open whatever tier were are in. 

'I know that today's announcement will be devastating for some, especially those in the hospitality and cultural sectors, and we call on the Government to provide better supported for those affected. It is essential that livelihoods are protected.

'Manchester and Greater Manchester have spent longer in restrictions than most places in the country and it is important those cumulative impacts, as well as the additional impacts of extended restrictions, are recognised and addressed." 

Tiers will be reviewed again on December 16th.

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