Friday Five: the week's top news

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Friday Five: the week's top news

Related tags: Coronavirus

This week's headlines were dominated by various parts of the country facing tougher lockdown measures, and the growing pleas of the hospitality industry for restrictions to be relaxed.

- Greater Manchester has become the first region of the UK to have the highest level of restrictions, which will see the majority of pubs and bars in the area forced to close, imposed upon it without a financial package in place to support businesses​. The decision affects 1,809 pubs in Greater Manchester, according to real estate adviser Altus Group, and will mean that one in 10 pubs in England - nearly 4,000 - are now mandated to close. It comes after talks between Westminster and the leaders of Greater Manchester on a financial support package for the region, which have been going on for more than a week, ended dramatically without a deal reached. Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said he was demanding £65m in financial support as a 'bare minimum' to top up the furlough pay of workers whose businesses are shutdown as a result of the lockdown. The Government, however, refused to offer more than £60m, and is now pushing forward with distributing these fund across the region.

- Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a new financial package targeted specifically at firms operating under the tighter restrictions enforced under Tier 2​ of the Government’s Coronavirus alert system. The measures included a scheme whereby hospitality businesses that have been adversely impacted by the restrictions will be able to claim a cash grant of up to £2,100 per month; and an overhaul of the yet-to-be-launched Job Support Scheme (JSS), which is set to replace the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) from the beginning of November. While trade body UKHospitality has welcomed the measures, chefs and restaurateurs have said they simply will not be enough​ to save businesses.

- Corbin & King co-founder Jeremy King says that his London restaurants will continue to accommodate business meetings while the Government’s Tier 2 restrictions on the capital are in place​. Writing in an email to guests, he says that under the restrictions business meetings are permissible in restaurants and bars, quoting a Number 10 spokesman who said that while current guidance advises people to limit their social contact “people are permitted to meet indoors for work purposes in high or very high areas”​. “We have been inundated with requests for information on this, and I know many of you have cancelled such meetings, so I was keen to set the record straight,” he says in his email. “Whether the Government does a U-turn on this as well remains to be seen but frankly I have had enough of prevarication, indecision and contradictions and am pressing ahead on this basis irrespectively. “There you have it. We will still need to limit the table sizes to six but otherwise we propose to proceed as above.”

- The organiser of this week's hospitality demonstration in Parliament Square against restrictions being imposed on businesses in the sector has vowed to return​ if the Government fails to act. Addressing the 600-odd members of the hospitality trade that had attended the protest, organiser Rachel Harty - a long-standing industry marketer - said she hoped the demonstration had had an impact. "Let's hope they listen to everything we need them to do, and things start to change for hospitality," she said. "If nothing happens then we'll be back here again soon; we're not going to let this go." Many of the HospoDemo protesters arrived dressed in uniform to represent their respective trades and equipped with protest signs that called on the Government to review its policies relating to hospitality venues, both in terms of restrictions and industry specific support. They also carried an assortment of pots, pans, ladles, cocktail shakers, wooden spoons and other hospitalityrelated props, which were used to create an eruption of noise aimed at getting the attention of those inside the Houses of Parliament.

- Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has ordered hospitality businesses to close for two weeks​ to ‘break the rapidly increasing spread of Coronavirus’ in Wales. Under the new rules - which will come into force today (23 October) and run until 9 November - nonessential retail, gyms and leisure centres must also close and people must stay at home unless they are critical workers or do a job where working from home is ‘simply not possible’. The rules will be comparable to the UK-wide national lockdown in March, with hospitality businesses still able to offer takeout and delivery. Wales has set up a £300m economic resilience fund to help businesses hit by the lockdown. Small firms in retail, leisure and hospitality which have to close will get a one off payment of up to £5,000 and every firm covered by small business rates relief will get £1,000.

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

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