Yotam Ottolenghi joins protest against Tier 2 London lockdown

Top chef Yotam Ottolenghi joins hospitality workers protesting against ‘devastating’ Tier 2 London lockdown they say will ‘kill’ restaurants and bars

  • Some 200 workers filled Parliament Square to protest London’s Tier 2 lockdown 
  • Different households banned from mixing indoors – even in hospitality venues 
  • Some 200,000 hospitality workers could lose jobs in central London alone
  • Yotam Ottolenghi said Tier 2 restrictions in the capital will ‘kill viable businesses’

Top chef Yotam Ottolenghi has joined hospitality workers in a noisy demonstration against ‘devastating’ Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions in central London.

Around 200 workers, from farmers to chefs and events organisers, filled Parliament Square with a metallic uproar by banging metal cooking utensils on Monday morning.

From midnight on Friday, London was thrown into Tier 2 lockdown meaning individuals from different households are banned from mixing indoors – even in hospitality venues – with outdoor socially distanced mingling permitted for groups of up to six.

The shock restrictions, which were announced less than 48 hours earlier, mean 200,000 potential job losses for hospitality workers in central London alone.

Top chef Yotam Ottolenghi  has joined hospitality workers in a noisy demonstration against ‘devastating’ Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions in central London

Around 200 workers, from farmers to chefs and events organisers, filled Parliament Square with a metallic uproar by banging metal cooking utensils on Monday morning 

Critics have warned the lockdown puts in force a ‘maximum squeeze on revenue and no support’ for struggling businesses and employees.

Almost a third of restaurants and pubs in England are set to be affected by the tougher tier curbs – more than 8,500 venues and 5,000 pubs. 

Mr Ottolenghi, 51, a chef and food writer who owns six restaurants in London, said the new Tier 2 restrictions in the capital will ‘kill viable businesses’.

He said: ‘It’s really hard, we’ve got a great industry with lots of heart, and nobody works in the hospitality industry to get rich, we do it because we love what we’re doing – and there’s so many people who depend on it.’ 

Mr Ottolenghi, 51, a chef and food writer who owns six restaurants in London, said the new Tier 2 restrictions in the capital will ‘kill viable businesses’. Pictured: Some of those protesting in London on Monday

The chef said he would prefer a circuit-breaker lockdown with support similar to the furlough scheme rather than see the industry ‘killed’ by ‘tiered’ restrictions

The protesters flocked to Parliament Sqaure in Westminster to campaign against the new coronavirus restrictions

Mr Ottolenghi, who has been writing recipe books while being unable to cook as usual during lockdown, said: ‘We really really need proper Government support for our staff if we’re going to carry on, because otherwise we just won’t be able to.’

The chef said he would prefer a circuit-breaker lockdown with support similar to the furlough scheme rather than see the industry ‘killed’ by ‘tiered’ restrictions. 

Almost a third of restaurants and pubs in England will be affected by the tougher tier curbs introduced tonight – more than 8,500 venues and 5,000 pubs.

Pubs which serve very little food are expected to have suffered the most through the pandemic so far, due to not having benefitted from the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme which saw a cut on food VAT.

Now pubs under Tier 3 – the harshest lockdown level affecting Liverpool and Lancashire –  will also now be forced to stop serving alcohol if they’re not serving a ‘substantial meal’ along with it. 

Max Ruddle, a farmer who supplies restaurants and bars in London, was protesting against the lack of financial support for the whole supply chain, while protesters wearing face coverings waved signs reading: ‘Boris you’re barred’ and ‘Today’s Special: Poverty’.

Mr Ruddle, 32, said: ‘We’re making a noise so that they over there (politicians in Parliament) can start creating solutions instead of making more problems.

‘We just need a bit of support so we can keep supporting our families.

Many of them wielded pots and pans and hit them with wooden spoons as others shouted

One protester held a sign which read, ‘we can do our jobs safely, can you do urs [sic] properly?’

Many of the protesters also wore white kitchen uniforms during the demonstration on Monday

London Mayor Sadiq Khan also voiced his support for protesters who are ‘deeply anxious about their future’

‘When one (restaurant) closes, it has a knock-on effect, and the chain reaction is devastating.’

Ronnie Murray, executive chef for events industry firm Camm and Hooper, who serve six venues in London, said he has been relying on the furlough scheme since March.

Wearing chef whites and a toque, he said: ‘I don’t know whether we’re going to be made redundant, whether something’s going to happen or not – it’s not looking great.

‘It looks like lots of restrictions have been put in place without anyone in the industry being consulted, we’ve not been able to advise the Government on what would work better.’

London Mayor Sadiq Khan also voiced his support for protesters who are ‘deeply anxious about their future’.

He said: ‘The 80% furlough scheme was a lifeline for many businesses at the start of the pandemic, and it is this level of support London’s hospitality sector now needs to prevent further widespread unemployment and ensure this world-leading sector can return to business when the virus is under control.

‘Until the Government gets a grip on this virus, ministers have an obligation to give businesses the support they need to survive while restrictions remain in place.’

Other demonstrators held signs with the words ‘Boris you’re barred’ and ‘cancel the curfew’

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