Hospitality businesses across London, in parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will be forced to close their doors once again from Wednesday at midnight as these areas are placed into the highest level of coronavirus restrictions.
In devastating news for pubs, hotels and cafes, businesses will only be able to operate under tier 3 rules, meaning they are only permitted to serve takeaway or delivery food and drink.
Hotels will have to cancel bookings and restaurants, pubs and venues lose out on the lucrative trading period in the run-up to Christmas.
London, south and west Essex and the south of Hertfordshire (Three Rivers, Watford, Hertsmere and Broxbourne) are going into tier 3 from 00:01 on Wednesday.
The parts of Essex are: Basildon, Brentwood, Harlow, Epping Forest, Castle Point, Rochford, Maldon, Braintree, Chelmsford, Thurrock and Southend-on-Sea.
Speaking to the House of Commons today, health secretary Matt Hancock announced that following a ‘sharp rise’ in infections in these areas, they had to take ‘swift and vital action’ acting ahead of the formal review date, scheduled for Wednesday December 16.
However, the rules will be reviewed again on December 23, earlier than the government’s previous commitment to review the restrictions every 14 days.
Speaking to the House of Commons, health secretary Matt Hancock added: “The vaccine is being rolled out but it takes time and we must preserve.
“I know for businesses affected it will be a significant blow, but we must act fast, as fast as the virus is spreading, to have an impact.”
Tier 3 still permits all retail shops to stay open, as well as gyms and beauty services including hairdressers to continue trading.