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Coronavirus latest news: Matt Hancock announces legal ban on households mixing in North East

Pubs, bars, and restaurants are suffering under the new regulations and a night out with friends just isn’t fun any more, our writer finds.

“By 7pm, Soho was bedlam. Every pub, bar, and restaurant had queues out onto the street, while groups of people wandered around trying to find anywhere with space, with most ignoring the two – or even one – metre rule. 

“Doors were blocked by customers being reminded that they had to wear a mask, even if they were just stepping inside to ask if there were any tables. Waiting staff looked visibly harassed and exhausted as they were forced to turn customers away. 

“’It reminded me of London in the early 2000s, before late-night licensing and drinking was relaxed,’ says Jayke Mangion, co-founder of Clapham Leisure which owns bars and restaurants across London. ‘Everyone is being pushed out from a controlled and safe environment at the same time. The curfew is doing exactly the opposite of its objective, and killing hospitality at the same time.’

“My friends and I tried to grab a seat at Blacklock Soho, an underground restaurant which is fairly off the beaten track and can usually be relied upon to find space for walk-ins. But it was the same story. ‘I’m really sorry,’ the woman on the door told me, ‘we’re trying to cram in all of our usual dining slots before 10pm, so we can’t take walk-ins.’ Next, we tried the Queen’s Head around the corner, but they too had no space whatsoever. “

Jack Rear has more here

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