The Prime Minister Has Confirmed £1000 Grants For Pubs And Hinted That Covid Restrictions Could Cover Smaller Areas
Boris Johnson has announced new £1,000 grants for pubs that only serve alcohol this December while suggesting the government may consider infection rates at a "granular" level when it reviews the controversial tier system.
The government has been severely criticised by those in the pub trade, landlords and breweries for the rules on the sale of alcohol in the new tier system.
"Wet pubs" that only serve alcohol and not substantial meals will have to remain shut in Tier 2, which the industry has said could lead to widespread permanent closures.
Pubs in Tier 3 can serve take-away food and drink.
The £1000 grants for December were described by the Prime Minister as being given to "recognise how hard [pubs] have been hit by the virus" in their busiest month of the year.
He said: "We will do everything in our power to support the hospitality sector throughout the crisis."
Johnson made his announcement as he set out the new three tier restrictions in the House of Commons which are due to be voted on by MPs this evening. Dozens of his own backbench are expected to vote down the rules.
Some of those MPs have said they do not feel they have been given enough evidence to justify the rules, or how certain areas may move down the tiers to less stringent restrictions.
MPs lined up to ask the Prime Minister if he would look again at the system, which has seen large geographical areas placed into the same tier, even though some areas may have zero or a low number of cases.
MP for Tunbridge Wells, former cabinet minister Greg Clark, said his area had one of the lowest rates of cases in the entire country but had been placed in tier 3.
He asked for district-level changes to be made when the restrictions are reviewed on December 16.
"Will the Prime Minister, at the first possible review on 16 December that if a particular borough meets the five criteria that he has set, he will move it down?" Clark asked.
Johnson replied: "He's quite right to raise the position of Tunbridge Wells and the feelings of the people of Tunbridge Wells are shared by many people across the country."
He said he understand people feel they had been treated unfairly by being moved into certain tiers, or absorbed into a tier because of one particular hot-spot.
"We will look in granular detail, local incidence, look at the human geography of the pandemic, and take account of exactly what is happening every two weeks, as I say," the prime minister said.
He made the same assurance to the Tory MP for Workington, Mark Jenkinson, saying he wanted to reflect the "human geography of the epidemic".
He said the new regulations will have a sunset clause on February 2 and will only be extended if MPs vote for them.