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Greater London, the south and west of Essex, and areas in the south of Hertfordshire will be placed under tier three from one minute past midnight on Wednesday 16 December, health secretary Matt Hancock confirmed.

It comes less than two weeks after pubs were allowed to reopen under the new tiered system and means many will lose out on the trade they had desperately been hoping would make up for losses.

Greene King chief executive Nick Mackenzie said: “Once again the Government has acknowledged hospitality is bearing the brunt of new restrictions to help control the virus but with no extra support to help businesses survive.

“Whilst we understand the need to manage the rate of infections, there is no getting away from the fact that moving London and other areas into tier three the week before Christmas will further cripple the pub sector, which is already on its knees and impact on the livelihoods of our team members and tenants.”

Dire straits

He added: “Pubs in London have had an incredibly difficult time this year. Without workers and tourists, footfall has been exceptionally low, even when restrictions were lifted. Two lockdowns and a long list of restrictive policies have left the hospitality sector in dire straits. This week would normally be a bumper week for pubs in the capital, instead, many will have to close their doors yet again, despite a significant amount of investment to ensure safe socialising.”

The trade has been calling for eased restrictions or additional financial support measures to help businesses through the next few months of closure or difficult trading periods.

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