Coronavirus: Businesses react to South Yorkshire Tier 3 move

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The new rules for South Yorkshire affect about 1.4m people living in four different local authority areas

Tighter coronavirus restrictions come into force in South Yorkshire on Saturday, bringing a knock-on effect for a range of businesses.

Under the new tier 3 move, betting shops, adult gaming centres, casinos and soft play centres have to close.

Gyms and leisure centres can stay open but indoor classes are not allowed.

It has prompted anger and financial uncertainty for many of the region's business owners and workers.

'We couldn't do more to keep people safe'

Image source, Jane Pettit
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Jane Pettit said people's mental and physical health was being pushed to one side

Jane Pettit described the news that fitness classes cannot be held as "devastating".

The 43-year-old is a shareholder in Forge Fitness UK in Rotherham, which runs group strength and conditioning workout sessions.

She is angry that indoor classes which can continue to be held in other tier 3 areas such as Lancashire, are not allowed under rules for South Yorkshire.

Ms Pettit said it "beggared belief" they could not open despite having stringent Covid hygiene measures in place.

"Every work station has their own 2m square box, equipment and anti-bacterial spray," she said.

"We have clear exit and entry points. Members must not come in until 15 minutes after the previous class and everyone washes their hands before.

"We could not do any more to keep our members safe and closing the sessions will have a bigger detrimental effect on mental health."

'Nigh on impossible'

Image source, Nicola Craggs
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The new restrictions are unworkable, says bowling alley owner Nicola Craggs

Although Barnsley Bowl can remain open during the tier 3 restrictions, its boss said it was "nigh on impossible" to operate effectively.

Nicola Craggs, who owns the 16-lane tenpin bowling centre, is facing a double hit of no government help to pay for staffing and a loss of customers.

She said that the centre could not even offer alcoholic drinks unless visitors were having a "substantial meal".

Ms Craggs said: "How are you going to run your business? It doesn't work.

"I think trying to maintain a popular and well-loved facility in Barnsley giving employment, with no financial support and such unworkable restrictions, they are making it nigh on impossible for business like ours to run."

'Very little demand out there'

Image source, Hafeas Rehman
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The number of pick ups in a normal shift have dropped from about 12 to four, Hafeas Rehman said

Taxi drivers in Sheffield face no new restrictions under the tier shift, but more curbs on other sectors are affecting demand for their services.

Hafeas Rehman, chairman of Sheffield Taxi Trade Association, said drivers had seen their earnings drop well below half since the pandemic.

"It's not good at all, it's going to decimate the trade even further.

"Me personally, I'm very worried. I have a family and bills to pay. I took a payment holiday for our mortgage but that now needs repaying again."

Mr Rehman said before coronavirus, drivers would normally make about £70 during an eight-hour shift, but now "they were lucky to get £20".

"There's just very little demand out there. People aren't going out on a night, there's so many more people working from home and less people going to the shops.

"Now the self-employment help has been reduced, financially it's just incredibly hard for so many of us."

'Grossly unfair'

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Casinos, along with betting shops and adult gaming centres must close

The closure of Sheffield's Grosvenor Casino has been labelled as "senseless" by its owner.

Jonathon Swaine, managing director of the casino's operator Rank Group, said decision-makers "understand nothing of just how safe casinos are" and said damage was being caused to the industry "just for the sake of it".

"Venues such as pubs are able to remain open and serve alcohol if they also sell a meal, which leaves gambling venues as the only ones ordered by government to shut up shop," he said.

"It is grossly unfair."

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