A ban on households in Birmingham mixing from Tuesday (15 September) due to a localised spike in coronavirus cases has already sparked restaurant cancellations, operators have said.
The new measures also apply to the boroughs of Sandwell and Solihull and were announced at a regional meeting of council leaders on Friday. The ruling bans more than one household from meeting indoors or in private gardens.
Licensed premises, including restaurants, pubs and bars, will be allowed to remain open, but operators have already reported cancellations from customers who had booked tables in multiple household groups and who have been confused by the new rule.
Ben Tesh, head chef and co-owner of Restaurant Folium in the city centre, said he heard the announcement today from a customer shortly after lunchtime service.
He told The Caterer: "It feels like another gut punch to restaurateurs."
Despite his restaurant's "maximum of four" table policy that was introduced after it reopened, he said they had already received cancellations from groups from two or more households for bookings for Tuesday onward.
Tesh feared that the situation could escalate and added: "It develops every day – we initially did a takeaway service during lockdown we might have to revert back to that. Next week they might say a full lockdown."
Cllr Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council, said that a maximum of six people could continue to mix with multiple households in pubs and restaurants because such venues already had "strict measures in place to ensure they are Covid-safe", whereas the virus was much easier to inadvertently pass on in someone's house "where people are more relaxed and less vigilant".
He added: "I understand that it may be frustrating that you can go to the pub but not see your family, but the data we have shows that the infection rate has risen mainly due to social interactions, particularly private household gatherings.
"So people can still go out to shops and to restaurants and other venues that are open, but remember to be vigilant; if a venue doesn't look safe and you are not asked for your contact details, take your business elsewhere.
Last month Birmingham City Council was granted new powers to control the spread of Covid-19, including the ability to close restaurants and bars without adequate risk assessments in place.