Friday Five: the week's top news

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Friday Five: the week's top news

Related tags: Coronavirus

A particularly difficult week for the hospitality sector saw restaurants and pubs in central Scotland being ordered to close; rumours of lockdowns in the north; and Greene King announcing hundreds of redundancies.

- Hospitality businesses in central Scotland will be required to close for 16 days from Friday, with licensed premises across the rest of the country temporarily banned from selling alcohol indoors​. The closures will apply to restaurants, pubs and bars across the central belt, including in both Glasgow and Edinburgh. In the rest of the country licensed hospitality venues will be able to remain open, but with severe restrictions in place. Indoor service will be subject to a 6pm curfew and businesses will not be allowed to serve alcohol indoors. Hotel restaurants will be able to operate beyond 6pm, but only for residents and without alcohol. All licensed hospitality will be able to continue selling alcohol outdoors up to the current curfew of 10pm. The restrictions have been met with anger and despair​ by industry voices.

- Prime Minister Boris Johnson is understood to have drawn up plans to impose further Coronavirus lockdown restrictions on pubs and restaurants across the north of England​, with closures likely in many areas. The Prime Minister is expected to follow Scotland’s lead and announce local lockdowns to curb soaring infection rates, with Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle likely to bear the brunt of the restrictions. Under the plans, the Government will introduce a new lockdown system that divides England into three tiers of escalating severity. The traffic-light-style system is designed to simplify local restrictions, with hospitality and leisure businesses in areas with the highest alert level ordered to close. According to reports, Johnson has signed off on the new system for England, with pubs and restaurants in northern England expected to be ordered to close early next week.

- Greene King is to close dozens of sites and axe hundreds of jobs​ following a slump in trade exacerbated by the Government’s 10pm curfew on hospitality businesses. The pubco said it started a consultation with 800 employees about a redundancy process earlier this week. It is understood the company will seek to redeploy affected staff wherever possible. In total, 79 of Greene King's pubs and restaurants will close, with roughly 25 of those closures - including 11 Loch Fyne restaurants - expected to be permanent. Greene King's UK estate includes almost 1,700 managed pubs and 1,000 tenanted venues. In a statement, a spokesperson for Greene King said: "The continued tightening of the trading restrictions for pubs, which may last another six months, along with the changes to government support was always going to make it a challenge to reopen some of our pubs. We urgently need the Government to step in and provide tailored support to help the sector get through to the spring and prevent further pub closures and job losses."

- The Government has been forced to delay a parliamentary vote on the 10pm curfew​ in the face of growing backbench opposition to the measure. Earlier this week it was reported that up to 45 Conservative MPs were expected to vote against the PM on the issue. The rebels are said to have been encouraged by Rishi Sunak’s 'frustration' at the measure, as well as Labour’s refusal to support the curfew without seeing the supposed scientific evidence behind it. Having originally been scheduled for Wednesday (7 October), the vote on the curfew is now expected to happen next week, with Government whips hoping to bring the rebels into line. The Government is retrospectively allowing votes for recent Coronavirus restrictions that have been applied England-wide. A vote on the rule of six vote was won comfortably by the Government on Tuesday night (6 October), though 14 Tories voted against it, and 12 more joined Labour in abstaining.

- BigHospitality and Restaurant publisher William Reed is to bring together more than 1,000 brands next year for a three-day event in Birmingham to celebrate and support the industry​. Following their postponement earlier this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Food & Drink Expo, Farm Shop & Deli Show, The Ingredients Show, Foodex, National Convenience Show and The Forecourt Show will combine in 2021 for the inaugural UK Food & Drink Week. The shows, which will adhere to AllSecure safety and hygiene standards, will take place between 12-14 April 2021, with UK Food & Drink Week forming the cornerstone of a week-long festival of insight and inspiration, promising new enhancements, new networking and meeting tools, and a host of exclusive on-demand content. The Forecourt Show has also been added into the mix, presenting returning delegates with a six-event showcase that unites the worlds of food development, grocery, manufacturing, specialist retail, wholesale and foodservice.

Check below for more of this week's headlines, or click here​.

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