Businesses in central London are predicting “hard times” in the weeks ahead as the capital braces itself for further coronavirus restrictions.
On the last night before new Tier 2 measures came into effect, groups of drinkers gathered outside bars in Soho and police were forced to disperse crowds shortly after 10.30pm.
The new measures mean that people from separate households will no longer be allowed to meet indoors in pubs, bars or restaurants.
Waqas Sadiq, a bouncer at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club on Frith Street, Soho, said that the new rules had made a lot of people “very unhappy”.
“A lot of people are talking about it, there’s going to be a very bad impact from next week on all the businesses, especially in the West End,” he said.
“In our establishment we’ve had to call all the people who have already booked, people who don’t live at the same address and tell them and maybe they’ll cancel their tickets.
“From next week it’s going to be a very hard time for all the businesses around the West End, all the restaurants and pubs.
“There are less people already.
“I think a lot of people are unhappy. Lots of people are losing their jobs and people have no money right now.”
IMPORTANT: new restrictions are in place from midnight.
🚫 Don’t socialise indoors with anyone outside of your household or support bubble🚫 Don’t meet more than 6 people outdoors❗ Aim to reduce the number of journeys you make if possible
Make sure you know the rules ⬇️
— Mayor of London (gov.uk/coronavirus) (@MayorofLondon) October 16, 2020
It comes after footage from Liverpool showed large crowds of people dancing in the street and not observing social distancing the evening before harsher restrictions were put in place in the city.
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said their actions were “a slap in the face” to healthcare workers.
A small protest against the new measures was staged in Soho and some revellers in Soho were led away in handcuffs.
Piers Corybn, brother of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – who has previously been arrested and fined £10,000 for breaching coronavirus regulations – later arrived to show his support.
“We’re here to drink against curfew,” he said.
“To oppose the lockdowns, to oppose job losses caused by lockdowns, to oppose all of it.
“The whole lot should be lifted now.”