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Confusion over restaurant and gastropub differences ahead of three-tier lockdown

Ross McGuinness
·2-min read
Young people outside the Blue Posts pub in Berwick Street, Soho, London. People in England will be banned from meeting in groups of more than six from Monday as ministers try to tackle the rising number of coronavirus cases across the UK.
Officials say there is confusion about the government's incoming three-tier lockdown system. (PA)

The government has been urged to clear up the difference between a restaurant and a gastropub ahead of England’s incoming three-tier lockdown.

Under the incoming plans, it is understood that in areas with high coronavirus infection rates, pubs may be forced to close while restaurants would be allowed to remain open.

Boris Johnson is set to announce the new coronavirus restrictions on Monday.

He will give a speech to MPs in the House of Commons later this afternoon before addressing the nation about the changes this evening, amid questions over whether the plan can drive down infections.

Under the new plans, areas of England are expected to be categorised as medium, high or very high risk, which will inform the level of intervention required.

The new restrictions are expected to hit areas of the North of England, where infection rates are high, particularly hard.

Watch: Strict measures to come under three-tier lockdown

Tier one areas would continue with ongoing restrictions such as the “rule of six” and the 10pm curfew on pubs, bars and restaurants.

Tier two could mean an additional ban on households mixing indoors, while tier three is expected to add the closure of pubs, bars, casinos and gyms, as well as a ban on non-essential travel.

However, in one of the areas most likely to be impacted by the new restrictions, officials have called for clarity on which premises may have to close.

This could be crucial to any lockdown as, in a tier three scenario, pubs would be forced to close while restaurants could remain open.

Steve Rotherham, metro mayor of Liverpool, where infection rates are among the highest in England, said there was confusion over how to categorise certain venues.

He said officials had asked the government to offer clarity over the differences between a restaurant and a gastropub.

He told BBC Breakfast: “That’s something that the government are still working the details of.

“I think you’d have to ask them for the details of what they believe the difference is because it did confuse some of us.”

When pressed about the confusion by BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker, culture secretary Oliver Dowden refused to answer.

Instead, he said: “The underlying principle is that in relation to hospitality, there are risks with hospitality, a number of risks.

“The first is that frequently in hospitality we spend time with people we wouldn’t normally spend time with. We know that the virus thrives on social contact.

“Secondly, it’s very difficult to apply face masks in hospitality settings.”

In a separate interview on Monday with Sky News, Dowden said the three-tier lockdown could last until “after Christmas”.

Watch: What is long COVID?

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