Hackney business owners prepare to enter Tier 2 amid uncertainty and “bizarre” new rules

A file image of a pub in central London. People are being encouraged to 'ask for Angela' at bars in Islington as code to...

A file image of a pub in central London. People are being encouraged to 'ask for Angela' at bars in Islington as code to be called a taxi or helped to leave discreetly. Picture: Yui Mok/PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

With the capital set to enter Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions, Hackney businesses are eager to reopen but “apprehensive” about new rules and the impact of being moved to a higher tier in the future.

The Gun pub in Homerton. Picture: The Gun pub

The Gun pub in Homerton. Picture: The Gun pub - Credit: The Gun pub

Nick Stephens, owner of The Gun on Well Street, says he is busy preparing to open his doors and has had to repurpose his pub into a restaurant to adhere to restrictions put in place to reduce rising infection rates.

He told the Gazette: “I never really wanted to not use cash, I never really wanted to do just food because it’s a pub ,but you’ve just got to adapt quickly. I’m hoping we will all come out of this leaner and meaner.”

READ MORE: Hackney under tier 2 Covid restrictions: What you can and cannot doPubs and bars can only reopen if they are operating as restaurants as hospitality venues can, once lockdown ends on December 2, only serve alcohol with a “substantial meal” defined as a full breakfast, main lunchtime or evening meal.

Nick said: “It’s madness. I can’t help feeling it’s a broad rule aimed at pubs, where they worry about people getting drunk and getting irresponsible.”

Strong+Bendy Fitness Studio in Hackney Wick. Picture: Strong+Bendy Fitness Studio

Strong+Bendy Fitness Studio in Hackney Wick. Picture: Strong+Bendy Fitness Studio - Credit: Strong+Bendy Fitness Studio

His pub has plenty of bookings for its reopening but Nick says he is apprehensive; The Gun has survived two lockdowns but only thanks to the generosity of its patrons, who donated £30,000 to save it from closure via a crowdfunder in June.

READ MORE: Community raises £30,000 in less than a day to help save Homerton pub from closure“We are still going,” Nick said.

“But we did have to rely on our punters and our landlord helping us out here and there.


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“The stopping, starting and stuttering is tough – let’s hope were nearly over it.”

Owner of Strong+Bendy Rhian Cowburn is concerned her fitness studio would have to close if London is moved to Tier 3 in...

Owner of Strong+Bendy Rhian Cowburn is concerned her fitness studio would have to close if London is moved to Tier 3 in the future. Picture: Strong+Bendy Fitness Studio - Credit: Strong+Bendy Fitness Studio

Strong+Bendy fitness studio owner Rhian Cowburn has also been left confused by what she called a “bizarre caveat” in Tier 3 restrictions.

While all gyms and leisure centres can open in all three tiers, fitness classes such as yoga or hiit are not permitted in the third tier.

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The owner says moving into tighter restrictions would be “crippling” and a real possibility as tier statuses are going to be reviewed by the government every two weeks.

Her Hackney Wick fitness studio, which relies on classes to turn a profit, would be completely restricted if London moves up a tier, while a gym with weights and running machines would not.

Rhian says the rules seem “arbitrary” and based on “wrong assumptions” about the level of movement and distance between people participating in fitness classes already adapted to social distancing guidelines.

The owner hopes the rule will be reviewed in parliament, especially as gyms have been shown to have very low infection rates.

READ MORE: ‘It really hurt,’ says Hoxton gym owner who launched business just before coronavirus “hit”According to fitness not-for-profit ukactive’s Research Institute, data taken from a sample of gyms on the UK during a week in October saw an incidence rate of 2.88 cases per 100,000 visits. In comparison, the case rate in the general population, according to official figures from the same week, was 150.83 cases per 100,000.

Meanwhile the Mayor of Hackney, Phil Glanville, welcomed the end of lockdown but reminded residents it would not mark a “return to normal”.

“Hackney residents are sadly dying again from Covid-19 and the NHS is starting to come under real pressure,” The mayor said.

“So we must all remain steadfast and carry on practicing hands, face, space and keeping to the guidelines.”

Find out more about Strong+Bendy fitness studio by clicking hereFind out more about The Gun pub by clicking hereFor council advice on tier two restrictions click hereLearn more about what you can and cannot do under tier 2 here

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