Half of pubs and clubs in Sheffield want 'sweet release' of enforced closure under Tier Three

About half of Sheffield’s pubs and nightclubs would welcome the ‘sweet release’ of enforced closure under Tier Three, the chair of a Sheffield hospitality industry forum says.
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Nick Simmonite of Unight, which has 45 members in the city centre, said 50 per cent of businesses were left unviable by Tier Two regulations which had ‘decimated’ trade when introduced last week. The rules include a household mixing ban and came on top of a 10pm curfew.

Members discussed the situation this morning, he said, while local and national politicians debated whether Sheffield should be moved up into Tier Three to control the virus.

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Mr Simmonite said about five members had already gone into ‘hibernation’ of their own accord. Some thought a Liverpool-style scheme of enforced closure was preferable. It pays 66 per cent of wages and pays venues up to £3,000 a month.

Nick Simmonite, chair of Unight in Sheffield.Nick Simmonite, chair of Unight in Sheffield.
Nick Simmonite, chair of Unight in Sheffield.

But others thought they could continue to eke out an existence on takings, despite the extra staff required to carry out check-in, table service and cleaning regulations. Under Tier Three in Liverpool only premises that offer a ‘substantial meal’ are allowed to stay open. But there was some disquiet at venues making money from displaced trade - punters unable to go to shuttered venues, Mr Simmonite said.

He added: “Some members want the sweet release of closure because they are haemorrhaging cash and Tier Two is not viable. They’re saying ‘for God’s sake shut us down so we can pay staff from the enhanced furlough scheme’.

“For others it doesn’t feel right be be considering taking a business forward under a restricted regime knowing that you’re making ends meet because your mate down the road has been forced to pull his shutters down.”

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Mr Simmonite said as well as members, the crisis was impacting suppliers including breweries, glass and food firms and door staff.

“We and our suppliers need help but the support packages seen in spring and summer are not there anymore. Workers are suffering real hardship. A number of members said they have empty barrels in the cellar which are not being picked up. The fear is that some brewers have quietly gone out of business.”

Sheffield’s nightlclubs were closed in March and remain shut.

Sheffield Chamber director Alexis Krachai said businesses needed time to prepare for any new restrictions. They also needed proper financial support and the government had to fix ‘test and trace’.

Test and Trace cost £12bn but only 67 per cent of ‘close contacts’ who have been near someone who has tested positive are traced within 24 hours. And they are among only 16m who have the app. It means potentially thousands of people with virus in the community.

He said: “Every restriction damages business. Customers disappear. Hours get cut. Staff are let go. Doors have to close. Some businesses are at risk of never opening again. This is the reality of what businesses are facing as we battle this pandemic.

“Business needs to see evidence that restrictions are justified and will work. Businesses need time to prepare before restrictions are introduced. Company owners need proper financial support for their business and their staff. Businesses need confidence that the government will fix our test and trace system nationally so we can learn to live with this virus.

“Whatever happens in the coming days one thing is clear. We need to do all that we can to provide viable businesses with a lifeline and we need to keep as much of our economy open as possible. Jobs and livelihoods depend on it.”

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