HOSPITALITY bosses have branded the latest coronavirus Tier announcement a “disaster” and questioned why such late notice was given.

Health secretary Matt Hancock confirmed BCP Council would be placed into Tier 4 of coronavirus restrictions from New Year’s Eve, while Dorset council would be in Tier 3.

Reacting to the news, Bournemouth Town Centre BID chief operating officer, Paul Kinvig, said it wasn’t surprising, but the government needed to “step up with financial support”.

Mr Kinvig told the Daily Echo: “This is not surprising given the numbers but it’s another devastating blow for town centre business, especially retail and hospitality.

“Of course, we need to remember that the restrictions are about getting the virus under control and saving lives.

“But the government will now need to step up with the financial support that business so desperately needs.”

Meanwhile, chairman of hospitality group Wonky Table, Andy Lennox, said: “What does the government expect us to do?

“Everybody has pinned their hopes on New Year’s Eve which we have now been told they can’t do.

“Furlough is brilliant, but that only pays the employees.

“It doesn’t help the businesses and the businesses have to be here to pay the employees.

“If there aren’t government grants, there won’t be a hospitality industry come March.”

Brewhouse & Kitchen chief executive Kris Gumbrell described the late notice as a “shambles”.

Mr Gumbrell said: “Is [moving tier] the right thing to do? Yes.

“The problem is, we have got hundreds of people booked in on New Year’s Eve.

“Our fresh food came in, I can’t return that food so we will be taking it to the food bank.

“The shambles continues. The lack of empathy has been breath-taking. If you are going to shut us, shut us last week.”

Cases in BCP and Dorset Council areas have been rising in recent weeks, with East Southbourne being identified as a “hotspot” with a rolling rate of more than 400 cases per 100,000.

And owner of Halo nightclub, Ty Temel, said: “The announcement putting our area into Tier 4 wasn’t unexpected.

“But at the moment our industry feels like a lone ship in the middle of the ocean fighting to stay afloat.

“We desperately need better communication and tangible immediate support. Livelihoods are dependent upon real action.”

And the manager of the Avenue Shopping Centre in Bournemouth echoed the call for more urgent government support.

Andy Duck said: “To be fair, it looked inevitable that we would go into a higher tier.

“It’s incredibly sad for the retail and hospitality sectors when they have worked so hard to deal with everything that has been thrown at them in the past few months.

“I hope that the situation can be reviewed soon, and we can start getting back to something like normal.”

The boss of Mexican restaurant Ojo Rojo, in The Triangle, Trevor Hill, said public safety was the priority.

Mr Hill said: “We were fully booked for the next week and beyond so obviously it’s a blow but look, this is about public safety and we know there is nothing more important than saving lives.

“We have worked creatively and safely over the past few months and we will continue to think dynamically.

“We are not going anywhere, and we will be back open again when it is safe to do so.”

Despite the news, the owner of Twelve Eatery, in The Triangle, was remaining positive for 2021, but also described the announcement as a “disaster”.

Dalton Mello said: “We are such a young business and have been impacted in a tremendous way.

“Our main concern is wastage at the moment. But we are trying to remain positive. We are all in the same boat.

“As a business, of course it’s devastating. Bournemouth has been amazing in welcoming us and we couldn’t be more grateful. We will look forward to a positive 2021.”

The announcement comes as three more people died with coronavirus in Dorset hospitals, latest figures revealed.

Data released by NHS England showed two deaths with the virus were recorded at University Hospitals Dorset, on December 29 and December 28, and one at the Dorset County Hospital on December 29.

Article by Andy Martin and Ben Williets