Idiotic. Catastrophic. Devastating. Just some of the words used to describe the decision to move London into tier three, resulting in another de facto lockdown for the capital’s hospitality venues.

Having spent hundreds of thousands of pounds preparing for Christmas, the anger was understandable and palpable, with large parts of Essex and Hertfordshire joining London in the highest alert level.

For Charlie Gilkes, co-founder of Inception group, it was the short notice, and coming so soon after the national lockdown, which was the source of frustration.

“24 hours notice to close after only 13 days, having spent a fortune getting reopened for Xmas trading after lockdown,” he said. “Devastating.”

Stonegate chairman Ian Payne called out the uneven treatment of the sector compared to retail.

“How can any sane individual justify keeping Central London retail open when hospitality has to shut? We have all seen the crowds in Oxford St at the weekend,” he said. “This is sheer madness.”

Wahaca co-founder Thomasina Miers highlighted the waste operators were scrambling to save.

“Have just spoken to a friend who is going to try to salvage some of the £4K weekly order by selling meat cuts to locals,” she said. “Where is the data to support this? Or the notice? Or any form of planning?

“And why are shops allowed open and not restaurants? Total insanity…”

Mail on Sunday food writer Tom Parker Bowles had some choice words to say about the decision.

“They’ve screwed Northern hospitality. The Midlands and Bristol too. Despite evidence that restaurants and pubs are responsible for a mere 2% of cases. Now it’s London’s turn. With no justification at all. At the most important time of the year. Idiotic. Catastrophic. Devastating.”

Ahead of the announcement, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan warned Tier 3 restrictions would be “catastrophic” for the capital’s hospitality sectors.

Khan said if the capital was moved from tier 2 into Tier 3 the Government must provide extra support.

He told LBC imposing the toughest tier across the capital would be a “blunt instrument”, arguing that the rise in cases was not linked to hospitality venues but instead due to a significant increase in schools and colleges.

Urging the Government to provide “additional financial support,” the Mayor said it would help businesses avoid “going bust.”

He said not only had they had “an awful nine months,” they had also “spent a fortune” ensuring their facilities were Covid-safe.

The Mayor branded these industries “crucial for our economic recovery.”

Greene King CEO Nick Mackenzie said hospitality was once again bearing the brunt of new restrictions, with no extra support to help businesses survive.

“Whilst we understand the need to manage the rate of infections, there is no getting away from the fact that moving London and other areas into Tier 3 the week before Christmas will further cripple the pub sector, which is already on its knees and impact on the livelihoods of our team members and tenants,” he said.

“Pubs in London have had an incredibly difficult time this year. Without workers and tourists, footfall has been exceptionally low, even when restrictions were lifted. Two lockdowns and a long list of restrictive policies have left the hospitality sector in dire straits. This week would normally be a bumper week for pubs in the capital, instead, many will have to close their doors yet again, despite a significant amount of investment to ensure safe socialising. What we need from the government now is further support to help hospitality businesses get through to the spring, so that can come out the other side of this crisis and play an important role in helping the economy to bounce back.”

The British Beer & Pub Association said the restrictions would force 1,250 pubs in tier two to close, putting nearly 8,000 more sector jobs at risk, worth an additional £16 million to the local economy.

It said in total, 56,000 sector jobs are now at risk in London alone as all its 3,680 pubs will now be closed except for takeaway business.

Emma McClarkin, CEO of the BBPA, said: “Moving into tier three is another nail in the coffin for London’s pubs, as well as those affected in parts of Hertfordshire and Essex.

“It could completely destroy many pubs in London and parts of Hertfordshire and Essex who have taken bookings for the lead up to Christmas and New Year’s Eve if the tiers don’t change before then. It is cruel on hardworking publicans doing all they can to support their communities and invest in implementing all the required safety measures. Especially as the Government’s own evidence shows pubs are safe.”

UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls said the lockdown would do nothing to tackle infections, which she said was being predominantly spread through schools.

“Once again, it is hospitality that will take the hit,” she said.

“The Government is cracking down on hospitality for an increase in the infection rates that occurred during a period when hospitality was forcibly closed. It makes no sense.

“So many pubs, restaurants, bars, cafes and hotels, having invested so much to make their venues safe, are only just clinging on by the skin of their teeth, but will be forced to take another huge hit. The burden of a region being moved into tier 3 falls almost exclusively on hospitality businesses. It is an illogical tactic that fails to tackle covid effectively but does push businesses closer towards failure.

“The Government must rethink its strategy to combating the spread of covid, including moving areas like Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham into Tier 2. Just continuing to batter hospitality is not the answer.”