South Shields restaurants expect to cancel Christmas after borough placed in Tier 3
Some have conceded the festive season will be anything but jolly at the tills this year – with one admitting even its permitted takeaway business is struggling.
A number in the normally thriving South Shields street fear takings during the traditionally busy holiday season will be hugely undercooked.
One boss has called on the Government to target financial support at restaurant owners as well as staff, whose jobs are protected by the furlough scheme.
Their decision for the ‘Santa pause’ comes just days after the borough was told it would be placed in the highest national tier category.
It means restaurants and pubs must keep their doors closed when lockdown ends on Wednesday and are restricted to only serving take-outs and takeaways.
Shah Choudhury, 42, owner of Zeera Indian Cuisine, said: “The Government has said it will review the Tier 3 level in two weeks’, but that will be too late for Christmas.
“It doesn’t give us time to order what we need, we can’t buy in that time. It’s going to be really tough this year.
“People are reluctant to book for Christmas, as they are not sure if we will come out of Tier 3 and into Tier 2 following the next stage of looking at restrictions.
“Our takings are massively down on last year and it is difficult to prepare anything. Asking suppliers to deliver goods, ordering and staffing are all areas of concern.”
He added: “I’m fuming because the Government has imposed these restrictions on us, but as a business owner, I can get very little financial help.
“It’s good that my staff are protected by the furlough scheme, but if you own a business owner, then the level of support is limited.
“I may get around £1,200 a month in help, but my business rent is £1,000 a week. If I go out of business, then my staff lose their jobs.
“It’s not feasible and never-ending. If we stay in Tier 3, then we may have to consider redundancies.”
Kamal Choudhury, co-owner of the Radhuni Indian restaurant, said: “Christmas is usually one of our busiest periods, but it looks like Christmas isn’t going to happen this year.
“We are a sit down and take-away restaurant but obviously we can’t have customers in at the moment. We are doing a take-away service but even that is struggling.
“We’ve already stopped opening for take-away on Mondays and Tuesdays and are reviewing it for some other days.
“Business is probably down 70 per cent on even the first lockdown. Business conditions are extremely tough at the moment.
“I think the tier 3 restriction is much too tough for restaurants, as we can restrict the number of customers and can space them apart and keep them safe.
“I went to a supermarket today and there was no room and no system in place to keep people at a distance, yet they are open.”