London goes into Tier 3

Traffic jams expected

Chiswick may find itself in gridlock on Tuesday (15 December) as Londoners react to the news that we’re going into Tier 3 from one minute past midnight on Wednesday morning.

When the national lockdown started at the beginning of November, traffic in west London was totally paralysed the night before as everyone rushed to get things done. This time people may well decide to get out of London today and start their Christmas early.

The AA told The Chiswick Calendar:

“Some people with second homes may decide to leave London tomorrow to avoid the restrictions from travelling from a tier 3 area to stay in second homes. However, most London residents, who plan to travel, will have based their plans around the Christmas period (23 to 27 December) when different rules on travel will apply.”

The surprise announcement from Matt Hancock, two days before the review of the Covid tiers was due, has set restaurateurs scrambling to cancel bookings and arrange takeaway services and the pubs are expecting a busy night on Tuesday as people head for a last drink before Christmas.

The Chiswick Calendar will refund tickets booked for our two Jazz at George IV nights planned for Thursday 17 December (Trio Manouche) and Christmas Eve (Mississippi Swamp Dogs).

Image above: Donna Thompson-Smith, owner of Le Vacherin

Busiest week of the year for restaurants

Donna Thompson-Smith, owner of Le Vacherin, told The Chiswick Calendar that this is their busiest week of the year and that they would try and offer everyone who’s booked with them the option to come and pick up their meal to eat it at home instead of eating in the restaurant.

“I thought we would have until the end of the week, at least Wednesday. It’s going to be crazy” she said.

They are not sure yet whether they will be able to offer all their customers takeaway meals from as early as Wednesday, but she and her staff are scrambling to try and organise that.

“We already have all the food, it’s all been ordered for the week, so we will do our best. We will contact anyone who has booked with us”.

Donna is in no doubt of the seriousness of the situation. Her own GP has died from Covid-19. They are fully booked for Christmas Day and they are hoping to honour those bookings as a click and collect service.

Images above: The Boston Room at George IV; Simon Randall

“We will open again as soon as it’s legal”

“The nightmare continues” was the reaction from Simon Randall, who runs Headliners Comedy Club in the Boston Room at George IV. He had four comedians booked for this weekend: Jeff Innocent, Paul McCaffery, Tim Clark and Ria Lina. This is the fourth time he’s had to cancel Jeff Innocent this year.

Everyone who had booked before Christmas would be refunded automatically, he told The Chiswick Calendar.

“I suppose this means we won’t be able to open on New Year’s Eve and probably in January as well” he said. “But as soon as it is legal to reopen, we will”.

Headliners has taken in the region of £60,000 less than last year. He has been living off savings as he has not been eligible for any compensation.

“Fuller’s very kindly waived the rent for six months but there are still some ongoing costs. While you can ride that for a month or two, it’s not so good when it’s approaching a year”.

He’s now thinking about whether he will have to cancel the Ealing Comedy Festival next year.

“I assumed that next year’s festival would be safe, but now I’m not so sure. The thing with festivals is that you have to commit quite early and we need to sell 70% tickets to break even”.

Images above: Mississippi Swamp Dogs; Simon Harris, Trio Manouche; Larry Pryce, Live Music To Go

“The very worst that could have happened”

The Chiswick Calendar is refunding tickets booked for Trio Manouche on Thursday 17 December and for the Mississippi Swamp Dogs on Christmas Eve.

Jazz promoter Larry Pryce, who organises Jazz at George IV jointly with The Chiswick Calendar, said he was “devastated”.

“To have this sprung upon us so near to Christmas is the very worst that could have happened”.

For him and many of the musicians who play live, performances are their only income.

The pubs in Chiswick are expecting to be busy Tuesday night.

“The public being the public, they will cram in to get a last drink in” one general manager told us. He was expecting, none the less, to be throwing away food and beer, and this time bottled drinks as well.

“Obviously the bottled drinks have a longer shelf life but we’re now finding that even the bottled stock is reaching the end of its shelf life”.

“We must act to suppress this virus”

Speaking in Parliament on Monday 14 December, Health Secretary Matt Hancock explained the reasons for London going into Tier 3. Average Covid admissions to hospital were up 13% over the past week new cases daily were up 14%. London had seen “very sharp, exponential rises”.

He also told MPs that a new variant of the virus had been identified, that may be associated with the rise. They’d identified over 1,000 cases of the new variant, mainly in the south of England.

“We have to take swift and decisive action” he said. “We must act to suppress this virus”.

He also said that the rate of new cases was rising in all age groups, not just those of school age. The conditions of Tier 3 are that people can only see their friends and family who are not in their household or bubble, in outdoor settings and in groups of up to six. Hospitality venues must close when this comes into effect a minute after midnight on Wednesday morning and Londoners should then avoid travelling outside their area.

See: Tier 3 restrictions – Very High alert

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: New community art work unveiled

See also: Row over last minute cancellation of Chiswick Antiques market

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