Leicester MPs and businesses have said the city’s Tier 3 restrictions are “extremely difficult to hear” following 150 days of lockdown.
The city has faced coronavirus regulations since June and business owners have expressed their “anger” over restrictions they say “feels a bit personal”.
Leicester City Council said despite the infection rate falling from 530 per 100,000 in mid November to 415 per 100,000 in the seven days to November 20, the prevalence of coronavirus in the city is still high so the Tier 3 status was “largely expected”.
Stuart Towers, who owns the Market Tavern in the city centre, said: “I’m close to being in my overdraft and to me, it’s scaremongering.
“You tell me now how I can go shopping at Morrisons with 300 people and not open my pub.
“What are the grounds of keeping pubs shut?
“We’ve spent hundreds if not thousands on being Covid-safe.
“What are we supposed to do?”
Mr Towers, 55, continued: “I can’t see us being open for Christmas.
“It all feels a bit personal.
“I more angry than anything. It feels like pubs are being used as a scapegoat.
“Even if I went into Tier 2 I can’t open because I don’t do food.
“If we don’t get out of it by the end of January I’ll be packing up.
“It’s frustrating because we’ve still got outgoings.
“I’ve got more angry over the last few weeks.
“I don’t want help, I just want to run my businesses.
“It’s not looking good – the more you think about it, the more you think it will kill some of us.
“Just common sense, that’s all I’m asking for.”
Some of the city’s MPs released a statement on Thursday urging the Government to “spell out” how Leicester would get out of Tier 3.
In a joint statement reacting to Leicester’s latest restrictions, Labour MPs Liz Kendall, Jonathan Ashworth and Claudia Webbe said: “This has already been an unbelievably tough year, and the news that Leicester will go into Tier 3 – on top of the 150 days of our extra lockdown – is extremely difficult to hear.
“The Government must now spell out how we can get out of Tier 3, and the measures they will use to review Leicester’s position, to give people hope their sacrifices will make a difference.
“Local businesses need proper support, especially our pubs, cafes, bars and restaurants who will be devastated by the news they are in Tier 3 in this crucial period in the run-up to Christmas.
“Ministers also need to fix test, trace and isolate and give our local council the resources it needs to properly support local people.
“We know how exhausted and frustrated everyone feels and the huge strain this lockdown has caused.
“News of a vaccine provides us with light at the end of the tunnel, but the Government must now act on the concerns we have repeatedly raised and give people in Leicester the help and support they deserve.”
City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said Leicester’s attempt to drive their coronavirus figures down had been “hampered” by NHS Test and Trace.
He said: “While Tier 3 was sadly inevitable, we have been hampered in driving the figures down by the time it takes NHS Test and Trace to pass us the names of those they’ve been unable to contact.
“We’re also still waiting for all the kit we need to start rolling out the new, quicker, lateral flow testing programme.
“But we’re making progress and our numbers are now heading in the right direction.
“People in Leicester have lived with these restrictions for so long, and I thank them for it, but I would urge everyone in the city to stay strong and keep going during the difficult weeks ahead.
“The Government has said that it will review Leicester’s position in two weeks’ time, so if we are able to get the rate down in the next fortnight, we could move out of Tier 3 before Christmas – and that would be good news for all of us.”