Graffiti Spirits Group co-founder Matt Farrell told MCA of his devastation and surprise at Liverpool being placed into the harshest tier three coronavirus restrictions.

Farrell, whose group runs a number of venues in the city, including Salt Dog Slims, Santa Maluco and Duke Street Food and Drink Market said there was ongoing confusion in the city over perceived grey areas in the regulations.

While food-led venues are permitted to continue operating, he said for many venues in the city, it was not worth their while, and better to stay closed with financial support.

He said despite the spirit of comradeship and defiance in the city, there was a fear Liverpool could be set back 10 years of development as a result of the measures.

“It’s devastating. It was fairly unexpected,” he told MCA.

“It’s Wednesday and we’re not clear on the guidelines, there are a lot of grey areas. It doesn’t bode well.”

Farrell said half his venues had remained closed since March, due to their late-night proposition.

“It didn’t feel like the right thing to do, to not have the full experience”, he said. “So those venues will remain closed for the foreseeable.

“They are receiving some support, it’s the ones that are open that are more in a more precarious position.

“A lot of people would rather be closed with support than open without it.”

Having recently spent £30,000 on upgrading Salt Dog Slims on Seel Street prior to lockdown, Farrell said it was “not worth it” economically to pivot to a more day-time, food-led offering.

He called for an end to political partisanship and for parties to work together on a route out of the crisis.

“There used to be big problems in Liverpool, the city has had to rebuild itself from the ground up,” Farrell said.

“There’s a foundation to build back up from, but the more draconian the policies, the worry is we could be set back ten years.

“I’m confident that when we come back, people will be looking for some sort of release after being restricted so long.

“We need to be looking at leisure and hospitality as a solution rather than a problem. Places you can stay healthy, places you can socialise, those things benefit people’s mental health.”

While acknowledging dismay in the city and the wider North of England over the new restrictions, he said there was a resolute spirit.

“The fear of not being able to plan and not knowing anything is tough,” he added.

“But there’s a lot of defiance, because of how thriving these places can be.

“People are trying to stick together. There’s too much to lose, we’ve come too far.”