Peace Gardens Sheffield

COVID-19 restrictions increase in Sheffield

It’s been a long few days, guessing, putting rumours together and waiting for today’s announcement from Boris. We knew what to expect, we just didn’t know exactly what to expect but neither did the councillors, Boris probably didn’t either.

Sheffield City Region Major Dan Jarvis confirmed on Twitter (yep, that’s how politicians deliver big news these days) that Sheffield will be in tier 2 which restricts households from mixing indoors (so you can’t go for a meal or drink with somebody who doesn’t live with you but kids can still go to school and you can go to work…), not sure where the only people in the venue are meant to have come from? Surely your mates can come along and sit at the table opposite? We’re sure more vague details and mixed-messages come soon.

2020 has been a year of surprises, it’s hard to shock us these days. On Monday 19th March, when Boris told us to avoid pubs, bars and restaurants we kind of laughed it off, by the end of the week, we was in lockdown. We just stayed in our homes for 3 months, did our daily walks, queued outside supermarkets before having to navigate our way around their one-way system and we clapped every Thursday for the NHS. Imagine being told this was how 2020 was going to be. This was normal life. Stay home, save lives, protect the NHS. And we believed it. It was working, COVID-19 cases were going down, then something changed.

The message changed. It went from saving lives to save the economy. Whilst we were being told to stay home, the places we used to visit, spend our money and time in were struggling even if Rishi was still helping to pay wages.

Lockdown restrictions eased on the 4th July, we were allowed back in cafes, pubs and restaurants, as long as we adhered to the social distancing measures in place. Table service is a gift we never knew we wanted.

It was great, pretty much every pub, bar and restaurant we’ve visited since July has felt safer than the supermarkets. Understandably, some people were sceptical (we’d just been told to stay home to save lives for the last 3 months) and the hospitality sector was struggling. They had been closed during lockdown, social distancing measures meant capacities of venues decreased, PPE equipment had to be bought and extra staff hired for table service. We’re not financial experts but it didn’t come as a surprise that the numbers didn’t add up.

Top boy Rishi pulled it out of the bag with Eat Out To Help Out in August, turns out people will go and visit places if the food is half price, places were packed!

Was there an increase in COVID-19 cases? Hardly. So, in August the government told the country to go out and spend time in cafes, restaurants and pubs and the country did but there was barely an increase in COVID-19 cases which surely shows that spending time in cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants is pretty safe, right?

COVID-19 cases have now been increasing, hospital numbers are on the up but these increases correlate with kids going back to school, students to universities and a turn in the weather which sees the elderly vulnerable to illness every year. Again, we aren’t experts but we could have predicted this. 

Something needs to change but why point those changes at the hospitality sector who were barely surviving anyway? Who been providing a safe space? The 10pm curfew has seen businesses with late license see takings halved, there is no real evidence showing COVID-19 cases increase after 10pm, sure social distancing does minimise after a few drinks but it also does on the discount isle at the supermarkets too (also, where has the one-way system gone?).

This is crazy!

Tier 2 might sound nice but it is the most dangerous tier, particularly for the hospitality sector. 

Why? Yes, they are allowed to remain open but will they make enough money to survive? Probably not, the rule of 6 is hard enough (people like going out with other people), restricting people to only go out with people from the same household is just unrealistic. Can a family-ran pub, already struggling after 3 months in lockdown, dealing with less customers, higher costs and a 10pm curfew survive this?

If we’d been put in tier 3, where places are forced to close then financial help is available, however tier 2 doesn’t force closure so financial help is unlikely to be available, cheers Rishi.

A full lockdown would be catastrophic but these new restrictions won’t help anybody. Without any clear guidance how are restaurants meant to order fresh stock in, not knowing if they’ll have any customers coming in and what about the breweries, who had to waste a lot of beer in the March lockdown, they’ve finally got back to almost regular brewing but if the pubs have only a few customers there’ll be more beer wasted and they will be anxious to start brewing again. Then there’s the additional staff, hired to deal with social distancing measures, what are they going to do Rishi? Retrain to work in ‘cyber’?

Safety first but support those who need it please.

If we do see a huge drop in cases then congrats Boris, let’s see (love a graph).


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