'We don't want to just sit around and wait for someone else to do something now, we want to do something productive and make a difference'

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 9th October 2020

"I think they're going to change it," were the optimistic words of Cancel the Curfew campaign co-founder Tom Lord.

"They might not necessarily let people return to their old licensing hours," the hospitality consultant and founder of Hospitality Gin said, "but they're going to have to change it in some way or another because of the amount of damage it's doing," citing Greene King's announcement that it would be closing dozens of its venues nationwide due to the effects of the pandemic.  

"When you've got figures like that coming from massive companies," Tom added, "You can't keep ignoring it - especially considering that the conservatives are meant to be the party of business as opposed to the party of the people." 

Tom conceded that the government has little leverage - as it has ruled out closing schools and locking people down in their homes, and despite efforts to improve the test and trace system, has fallen short of keeping the infection rate down.

However, he said: "Due to the amount of backlash they've got, I can't see it remaining in its current form for an extended period of time because of the amount of damage it's doing to businesses and the economy."

"It may remain in some way, possibly," comparing it to similar (but arguably at least marginally more effective) measures in other countries. 

"In Barcelona it's a 10 o'clock cut-off time, so you can't enter a new venue after 10, but you can stay open until one o'clock in the morning - reducing bar hopping and the risk of transmission between large groups and keeping it all contained." 

"They've done it in a more sensible manner and it's still not having the desired effect. I think they'll pull it and put something else in, purely based on the amount of work venues have had to put in to be viable to then be told that they have to close at 10. It's killing half of the industry." 

"I just don't think they can keep on with." 

Cancel the Curfew background

At the onset of the crisis, Tom was part of a consortium who started a conversation between the admins of all of the hospitality groups on social media, to make sure relevant information for businesses was timely and accurate, so as to reduce the negative effects the pandemic had on the sector. 

The group has since been backed by the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), The Morning Advertiser, Bar Life UK, Big Hospitality and hundreds of hospitality businesses across the UK who have suffered financial losses as a result of the curfew, wishing to form a united front. 

"There seemed to be a lot of misinformation out there," he said, adding that "we wanted to point people in the right direction if it was something that we could definitively answer." 

"When the curfew came in - that was our final straw. We were being reactive up until then; as much as it was damaging the industry there was science behind it and there was reasoning behind it and you could see that - as much as we'd like to have massive events back, you can see why what's been done has been done." 

"The curfew was the final straw. We thought: 'We don't want to just sit around and wait for someone else to do something now, we want to do something productive and make a difference." 

The group is calling for people to send a pre-written letter to their MPs calling for the end of the curfew, and is backing London nightclub owner Jeremy Joseph's legal case against the government. 

Additionally, it is calling for hospitality workers to share pictures of their empty venues on their social media feeds on Saturday 10/10, holding up #CancelTheCurfew signs, and to include the true sum of the material losses they have made as a result of the curfew. 

"60 percent sounds like a lot," he said, "but when you don't know what the original number is, it doesn't have as much of an effect," he explained.

"Someone saying: 'Our revenue is down by two thirds - the average person doesn't necessarily know how much that means in the real world. If we say: 'We're down £30,000 this week', then people go: 'Oh, well that that's a lot of money'." 

"We understand that a lot of businesses don't want to show the extent of the damage that has been done, that's part of being a business. But some of the people that are getting behind this are saying: 'Look, it doesn't matter now, if it makes a difference to say, actually, my business is struggling, yeah, I'll say it'."

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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 9th October 2020

'We don't want to just sit around and wait for someone else to do something now, we want to do something productive and make a difference'