PUBLICANS and restaurant owners have weighed in on the Government’s plan to restrict opening hours in a bid to halt the spread of Covid-19.

Under new Government restrictions, a 10pm curfew has been imposed for pubgoers and restaurant-goers.

Piers Baker, who owns the Church Street Tavern, in Colchester town centre, and The Sun Inn, in Dedham, accused the Government of wrongly targetting the hospitality sector in the latest round of restrictions.

He is one of more than 175 publicans to sign an open letter to the Prime Minister predicting a curfew could spell disaster for an already struggling industry.

“I am not sure why they are targeting hospitality when five per cent of cases in week 37 were in hospitality, compared to 38 per cent in homes,” he said.

“This is restriction without any form of mitigating financial help.”

Mr Baker also pointed to a long list of unanswered questions.

He said: “Will furlough be amended and extended? Will there be support on rents?

“If bad pubs were not adhering to measures before, why will they now?”

He added: “We need to keep our economy open, protect those who need protecting and not ignore other medical issues such as depression, abuse and cancer.

“Bringing in curfew at 10pm in towns will mean greater pressure on transport and we will have large numbers of people outside in one go.

“Whereas before you had restaurants and pubs all closing at different times.”

David Brady, landlord at The Alma pub, in Copford, said rural pubs would find the restrictions easier to cope with than town centre pubs.

“During the summer we have done really well out of having our new tables outside,” he said.

“When the temperature drops and we have more people inside, social distancing and table service becomes more difficult.

“Restaurants will have real trouble.

“Unless people start eating earlier, they will be really hit by this.

“Most restaurants don’t have outdoor spaces so are already struggling. Now they are being told to close at 10pm they will have to take last orders much earlier to give time for food to be prepared.”