Croydon restaurant managers have been overwhelmed by a wave of cancellations following the announcement of Plan B measures.
Boris Johnson announced a move to Plan B on Wednesday 8 December due to the spread of the Omicron variant.
The new restrictions include a return to legally mandated face coverings, vaccine passports and updated home working advice.
The government has urged those who can work from home to do so, but has not prohibited in-door gatherings.
“It was going to be a very good Christmas for us – we were booked everyday,” Kulsum Hussin, owner of the Yumn Brasserie in South Croydon, said.
“This week, after the announcement on Sunday, [bookings] have been completely wiped out.”
Yumn Brasserie has seating for 150 people and specialises in fine dining.
The Prime Minister spoke of a tidal wave of cases from the new strain and warned that the country would move to COVID alert level four, the second highest rank.
Hussin explained that cancellations started on the 6th, but the business saw 300 cancelations on Monday morning alone.
The restaurant owner said that business had halved over the last week.
On Wednesday, the restaurant was expecting 200 people but only served 30.
Lost business is only one of Hussin’s concerns.
In anticipation for the crucial Christmas period, responsible for a third of the business’ income each year, the restaurant has taken on new staff and equipment especially.
Some of the bookings include groups of 80 people and had been placed as far back as October, with time and money being spent catering for those with strict dietary requirements.
The restaurant owner wanted clearer guidance from the government around where people should and should not go, for the sake of her customers and her business.
She also hoped that government would step in to help the hospitality industry as before.
“I wish the government was a lot more clear about their signals, its like lockdown by stealth,” she added.
Kumar, a manager of the Mexican restaurant ¡COMAMOS!, said: “We don’t have any bookings anymore, we just rely on the walk-ins.”
The restaurant manager explained the restaurant, which can seat 100 people at once, had around 200 cancellations in the last week.
The business has seen a staggering fall in customers, from around 100 people on average to 20 this week.
Kumar expects the next few weeks to be even worse as more people self-isolate due to illness or to avoid contracting COVID.
Like Yumn, ¡COMAMOS! had stocked-up in anticipation of a busy holiday season, but as business dries up, Kumar fears much will go to waste.
“The business cannot survive without support,” he added.