Thanet businesses owners have said they feel ‘devastated’ by the second national lockdown coming into force this Thursday (November 5).
The restrictions will mean the closure of all non essential shops and leisure and hospitality venues for a month.
The government has extended the furlough scheme and the self employed grants but numerous isle businesses that opened for the first time following the March lock down fear they may not be eligible.
Under 1 Roof Kids Thanet opened at the former Bumblebeez site in Pyson’s Road this month but now they have to shut the doors to the multi-purpose children’s centre for a month.
Co-owner Zahra Tarjomani said: “I feel utterly devastated. With the new restrictions we will be crippled.
“As we are such a new business we may not make the eligibility criteria for support as we were not eligible the first time around, so we are all terrified of what the future will hold for us.”
The centre, run by Zahra, her sister Parisa and Pyramid Martial Arts & Just Kids Parties owner Matt Milchard, has had an influx of enquiries from people who have made bookings and staff will contact all pre-booked customers.
In a message on the centre’s facebook page they say: “Thank you to every single one of our customers who have supported us throughout this very difficult and uncertain time and we can’t wait to welcome you back when we are able to do so.”
The recently opened Little Seaside Town in Ramsgate is also having to contact pre-booked customers.
The site, run by mum Tracy Harris and daughters Jade and Leonie, was finally able to open at the end of September and has been hugely popular.
But now the family business has to close its doors until December 2.
In a post to customers they said: “Following the Prime Minister’s announcement, we will unfortunately be (temporarily) closing on Wednesday, November4 at 5.30pm.
“We will individually contact everyone who is booked in at Little Seaside Town throughout November. Please bear with us as we do so!
“We cannot wait to reopen early December, plans for our Christmas Winter Wonderland will continue and we so hope we can go ahead with this!
“We are beyond grateful to all of our incredible customers we have met over the pastfive5 weeks.
“We are truly saddened to be closing but as always, safety remains our first priority!”
The Camden Arms in Ramsgate reopened with new landlord Jonathon Turner just yesterday (October 31).
Jonathon said the launch night was “amazing” and he is trying to stay positive.
He said: “It’s a shame we have got to close but if it’s needed then we must go with it. Personally I think it’s going to take a lot longer than four weeks but only time will tell.
“We followed all rules last night and everyone was well behaved. I am thinking positive for when I can reopen and I’m hoping to have a good menu and more special nights.”
In Broadstairs the Palace Cinema had only just reopened this week after being closed since the first lockdown in March.
Owners Corinna Downing and Simon Ward had spent months preparing and making sure the venue is covid-secure.
Corinna said: “After several weeks of renovations and detailed preparations for Covid safety, the Palace was delighted to reopen on Friday, October 30.
The Bus Café in Margate initially shut on March 18 for the first ‘lockdown’ due to concerns for the young seasonal staff.
The café on Margate’s ‘Sun Deck’ area, is run by Simon Lindley, wife Jodie Ellena and friends Xander Muir and Lois Du Plessis.
Jodie and Simon then fell ill, they believe with the virus, so even limited business was not possible.
A small business grant of £10,000 helped during that first lock down but there were still overheads to consider.
Some Summer trade has been possible and the café has been working into the Autumn although just this month they have been hit by vandalism of one of the bus windows and then a financial hit due to no show diners.
Six tables were left empty due to booked customers not turning up, meaning a loss of takings and the cost of an extra staff member wasted.
And now The Bus Café will have to close from Thursday.
Jodie said: “As long as we are able to somehow financially support our staff that’s all that matters. But obviously if we have no cash flow for the month then we won’t be able to do that without support. Our staff costs and overheads are in the thousands each month so without an income we will really struggle.
“Even when we are allowed to open, people will be watching the pennies so it’s not going to be easy to encourage people to spend money on luxuries.
“We could do takeaways but have not decided. Our experience early in the first lockdown was that it didn’t work that well. Late November is generally quiet anyway. People are saving for Christmas so not spending as much on other things and doing takeaways will be tough for us as people come to the bus for the views and the experience, to sit by the seaside.
“There won’t be visitors so we have our locals who are lovely and incredibly supportive but maybe wouldn’t order a breakfast to eat at home. We are just going to take each day as it comes.”
There is also confusion for pubs, micropubs and breweries with the latest lockdown restrictions saying: “Hospitality venues like restaurants, bars and pubs must close, but can still provide takeaway and delivery services. However, takeaway of alcohol will not be allowed.”
Many Thanet pubs survived the first lockdown by offering a takeaway service and now are calling for clarity over this latest rule.
Michael McColl, who runs The Laughing Barrel in Palm Bay, said: “Pubs have been going longer than supermarkets. We have spent a lot of time and money making sure that our premises are COVID secure and using track and trace from the start where as supermarkets don’t need to use track and trace.
“The support from the government will only just about cover the our rent.”
CAMRA’s (Campaign for Real Ale) National Chairman Nik Antona said: “A second lockdown is a devastating blow for an industry that is currently on its knees. Pubs have already invested thousands to reopen COVID-safe environments despite facing seriously reduced incomes. Simply put, the new lockdown couldn’t come at a worse time.
“The Government must introduce a robust support package for all pubs and breweries – regardless of their current rateable value. While an extension to the furlough scheme is welcomed, it does not go far enough. We need more details of how much support will be offered along with a clear roadmap out of lockdown to ensure local jobs and businesses are not lost forever.”
A Thanet CAMRA spokesman said of the alcohol takeaway ban: “Like everybody else we think it’s ridiculous and likely to have a devastating effect.”
“Nightmare” for retail
Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, branded the latest restrictions as “a nightmare before Christmas” for retail.
She said: “Retail faces a nightmare before Christmas as the Government proposes to close thousands of retail premises under this new national lockdown, denying customers access to many of their favourites shops and brands. It will cause untold damage to the high street in the run up to Christmas, cost countless jobs, and permanently set back the recovery of the wider economy, with only a minimal effect on the transmission of the virus.
“A recent Sage paper reported that closing ‘non-essential’ retail would have minimal impact on the transmission of Covid. This is thanks to the hundreds of millions of pounds retailers have spent making their stores Covid-secure and safe for customers and colleagues.
“The announced closure will have a significant economic impact on the viability of thousands of shops and hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country. The previous lockdown cost ‘non-essential’ shops £1.6 billion a week in lost sales; now that we are entering the all-important Christmas shopping period, these losses are certain to be much bigger.
“We have no doubt that retailers will comply with the rules and play their part to ensure the British public can remain safe and have access to the goods they need. Nonetheless, Government must also play its part, providing support to businesses that will be forced to close, otherwise the consequences for local retail will be dire.”
And the government decision to keep nurseries, schools, colleges and universities opened has been heavily criticised.
The National Education Union is calling for schools and colleges to be included in the lockdown – and for rotas to be introduced at the end of the lockdown period. The Union says that schools should remain open to the children of key workers and vulnerable children during such a general closure period.
In Thanet several schools have reported staff and pupils with positive virus tests with Garlinge Primary taking the step to close the whole school until November 9 following 32 cases. Further cases have been reported this week for
Pointing to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union said: “It is clear from ONS data that schools are an engine for virus transmission. It would be self-defeating for the Government to impose a national lockdown, whilst ignoring the role of schools as a major contributor to the spread of the virus.
“Such a lockdown imposes pain on the whole community – but it is not be as effective as it could be if schools were included. Ignoring the role of schools and colleges in the spread of the virus is likely to lead to the need for even longer lockdowns in future.
“The latest figures from the ONS estimate that 1% of primary pupils and 2% of secondary pupils have the virus and that these levels have increased dramatically since wider opening in September.
“NEU analysis of ONS figures shows that virus levels are now nine times higher amongst primary pupils and an astonishing 50 times higher amongst secondary pupils.
“The National Education Union called for a two week circuit break over half term to include schools, which the Wales Government and the Northern Ireland assembly have done – but the Government in Westminster has ignored this call.
“More severe measures are now called for as a result.”
Latest government restrictions
- All pubs and restaurants have to close once again, although takeaways and deliveries will be permitted; Takeaway of alcohol will not be allowed.
- all non-essential retail, including, but not limited to clothing and electronics stores, vehicle showrooms, travel agents, betting shops, auction houses, tailors, car washes, tobacco and vape shops.
- indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, leisure centres and gyms, sports facilities including swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges, dance studios, stables and riding centres, soft play facilities, climbing walls and climbing centres, archery and shooting ranges, water and theme parks,
- entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, adult gaming centres and arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, concert halls, zoos and other animal attractions, botanical gardens;
- personal care facilities such as hair, beauty and nail salons, tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services, non-medical acupuncture, and tanning salons.
- Hotels, hostels and other accommodation should only open for those who have to travel for work purposes and for a limited number of other exemptions which will be set out in law.
Non-essential retail can remain open for delivery to customers and click-and-collect.
Playgrounds can remain open.
Some venues will be allowed to remain open for specific exempt activities, like childcare and support groups. Support groups that are essential to deliver in person can continue with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support. This includes support to victims of crime, people in drug and alcohol recovery, new parents and guardians, people with long-term illnesses, people facing issues relating to their sexuality or gender, and those who have suffered bereavement.
Funerals and weddings
Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people, and it is advised that only close friends and family attend. Linked ceremonial events such as stone settings and ash scatterings can also continue with up to 15 people in attendance. Anyone working is not included. Social distancing should be maintained between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.
Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies will not be permitted to take place except in exceptional circumstances.
Places of Worship will be closed, unless they are being used for:
- To broadcast acts of worship
- Individual prayer
- Formal childcare or where part of a school
- Essential voluntary and public services, such as blood donation or food banks
- Other exempted activities such as some support groups
People are to stay at home unless:
They are going to work (and can’t work from home), travelling for education, for exercise, medical reasons, escaping the risk of harm, shopping for food and essentials, providing care to the vulnerable and volunteering or visit members of your support bubble.
Outdoor exercise or visit an outdoor public place – with the people you live with, with your support bubble or, when on your own, with 1 person from another household.
Outdoor public places include:
- parks, beaches, countryside,
- public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them), allotments
You cannot meet in a private garden.
Children with separated parents can stay at both homes
Over 60s and clinically vulnerable to minimise contact although shielding will not be brought back in.
Nurseries, schools, colleges and universities will remain open.
You must not meet socially indoors with family or friends unless they are part of your household – meaning the people you live with – or support bubble.
A support bubble is where a household with one adult joins with another household. Households in that support bubble can still visit each other, stay overnight, and visit outdoor public places together.
Staying away from home
Overnight stays and holidays away from primary residences will not be allowed- including holidays in the UK and abroad. This includes staying in a second home, if you own one, or staying with anyone you do not live with or are in a support bubble with. There are specific exceptions, for example if you need to stay away from home (including in a second home) for work purposes.
The furlough scheme will be continued throughout November until December 2, although in a different form to that in the first ‘lockdown.’ Employees will receive 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500. Under the extended scheme, the cost for employers of retaining workers will be reduced compared to the current scheme, which ends today (October 31).
Business premises forced to close are to receive grants worth up to £3,000 per month under the Local Restrictions Support Grant. A further £1.1bn is being given to Local Authorities, distributed on the basis of £20 per head, for one-off payments to enable them to support businesses.
- For properties with a rateable value of £15k or under, grants to be £1,334 per month, or £667 per two weeks;
- For properties with a rateable value of between £15k-£51k grants to be £2,000 per month, or £1,000 per two weeks;
- For properties with a rateable value of £51k or over grants to be £3,000 per month, or £1,500 per two weeks.
Mortgage holidays will also no longer end today. Borrowers who have been impacted by coronavirus and have not yet had a mortgage payment holiday will be entitled to a six month holiday, and those that have already started a mortgage payment holiday will be able to top up to six months without this being recorded on their credit file.
Parliament will debate and vote on the measures on Wednesday.