‘Thousands of shops, pubs and restaurants face going bust after the Prime Minister’s coronavirus crackdown on socialising last night.
Boris Johnson urged the public to ‘avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues’, saying ‘now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others’.
The guidelines mean the income of thousands of businesses could collapse overnight, forcing many to close with the potential loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Shops have already suffered a massive drop-off in customers as numbers fell by a third at the weekend. This continued yesterday, with the normally packed Bluewater shopping centre in Kent, for example, near empty.
The country’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty has warned the coronavirus crisis could last for ‘weeks or months’, adding: ‘This is going to be a marathon, not a sprint.’
Last night a backlash was growing against the Government for failing to alleviate the strain on businesses that employ five million.
Experts said that without further help a string of household names on the high street, which will have to pay staff, rent, business rates and tax, will go out of business. Kate Nicholls, of UK Hospitality, said: ‘This is catastrophic for businesses and jobs. The Government has effectively shut the hospitality industry without any support.’