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Council leader calls for additional support for the hospitality sector

25 September 2020

Rochdale Borough Council leader, Allen Brett, has hit out at government plans to force a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants, amid concerns it will bring an already beleaguered sector to its knees, unless additional financial support is put in place.

Speaking after the government announced additional lockdown measures, which include a 10pm curfew for pubs, restaurants and bars, from Thursday, September 2020, Councillor Brett questioned the impact it would have on spiralling infection rates.

He said: "While we support moves to bring this awful virus under control, it's hard to see what difference, if any, this policy will make to infection rates. What we do know is that is it could have a catastrophic impact on the hospitality sector, an important part of our local economy which supports thousands of jobs and livelihoods across our borough.

"I can't see a slightly earlier closure making much difference to infection rates. In fact, the numbers of people in pubs at any one time could increase if opening hours are limited. Added to that, the government is risking people leaving hospitality venues earlier and gathering in each other's homes, further driving up household transmission, which we know is a key factor in the spreading of this virus.

"Hospitality venues across Rochdale have worked really hard to reopen safely and in many cases have incurred significant expense ensuring their businesses are COVID compliant. They've already suffered major losses because of the full closure earlier this year and continuing limitations on the number of people they can have in their venue. The sad truth is that some of these businesses, many of which are independents, simply won't reopen next year if these restrictions continue, with no end in sight and no additional financial support from government.

"The fact that different rules are in place across Greater Manchester hasn't helped the situation either. If we want people to comply with these rules, we need to make them as simple as possible and people are frankly confused. That's why we really need a uniform policy across Greater Manchester. These announcements are a chance to align the measures in Greater Manchester, so that everyone understands them and can do the right thing."

Councillor Brett also appealed for vulnerable residents and their families to continue to take care of each other.

He said: "Government support for shielded people has now ended. But, with infection rates at current levels, I would implore people who are vulnerable to take extra care; don't take unnecessary risks with this deadly virus."