St Albans district’s hospitality industry launches #KeepTheLightsOn SOS campaign to highlight damage of 10pm curfew

The district’s hospitality industry has launched a new campaign aimed at halting the 10pm curfew which they say is destroying their livelihoods.

Inspired and supported by local MP Daisy Cooper, Save St Albans Pubs devised the #KeepTheLightsOn campaign in a bid to raise awareness of the impact the Government’s latest Covid restrictions are having on businesses nationwide.

It involves pubs, restaurants and hotels turning their premises lights off at the 10pm curfew time, signalling an SOS with their lights, videoing and uploading to social media and tagging their MP to ask them to stop the curfew.

The curfew has significantly reduced the income of a majority of St Albans restaurants, pubs and hotels, which were already operating at reduced capacity due to the pandemic.

It means no second sitting for dining, and local pubs including the Jolly Sailer, White Lion, Craft and Cleaver, Beehive and the Great Northern have seen a marked reduction, not only in weekend revenues, but in midweek footfall as well.

The St Albans Irish Club and Luton-based Crawley Green Puma football club also joined in to highlight the wide reaching impact the curfew has on local community clubs, many of which rely in revenue from sales to fund their wider community services.

Campaign spokesman Sean Hughes said: “The campaign launch was an overwhelming success, with pubs, restaurants and hotels from Brighton, Leeds, Harrogate, London, Windsor and many other towns and cities joining together with Save St Albans Pubs.

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“However we need more businesses to join in to highlight to the government the incredibly flawed curfew, which has created massive social distancing issues at 10pm as patrons leave the well-managed and highly regulated safety of socially distanced pub tables for the streets and supermarkets (for alcohol purchases) in an uncontrolled manner.

“At a time when pubs have spent millions on becoming Covid-safe and successfully opening with very low transmission rates across all hospitality venues where food and drink is served, this curfew has caused untold damage to the industry and the economy, with job losses already and thousands more to come.

“The 10pm curfew, in reality, is a 9.30pm curfew and is unsustainable for a month let alone half a year.

“Pubs now also have the additional burden of table service which has increased staff costs at a time where revenues have been hit once with Covid and then a further 30 per cent with the curfew.

“With city centre pubs shutting in their hundreds each week across major cities, smaller local countryside pubs and inns mostly run by couples and families are now also in financial crisis.”

Save St Albans Pubs says the curfew has led to hundreds of thousands of people emptying out of Covid-safe venues onto packed streets and public transport which will result in a rise in infection, but dialogue with the industry prior to this curfew would have highlighted this issue.

They are now urgently ask the Government, as a minimum, to review the conditions of the curfew and allow pubs and restaurants to open up to 11pm to let their customers finish and leave.

Even if the 10pm alcohol sales curfew remains, they say this will be a huge step forward in allowing a second sitting for restaurants and will stop venues all emptying onto the street at the same time by giving people an hour to leave at staggered times.

The #keepthelightson campaign culminates this coming Friday with a huge national push, as businesses across the industry sector signal their SOS to the government.

For more information, follow Save St Albans Pubs on Facebook and social media, and show your support by sharing SOS videos, tagging your local MP and asking them to help the hospitality industry survive.