PUBS and restaurants across Hampshire are reeling from the announcement that new coronavirus restrictions could remain in force for up to six months.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that hospitality outlets will have to lock their doors at10pm each day from tomorrow to help curb the spread of Covid-19.

Mr Johnson said new measures were needed to curb the spread of coronavirus and reduce the risk of up to 200 deaths a day.

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But they are a devastating blow to pubs and restaurants still recovering from three months in lockdown and the strict social distancing rules imposed when they reopened in July.

The latest restrictions are likely to last beyond Christmas - the most lucrative part of the year for many businesses.

Giles Semper is chief executive of Go! Southampton, the Business Improvement District (BID) for the city.

He said: "We are obviously deeply concerned for our businesses in the leisure and hospitality sector, particularly as they approach the key Christmas period.

"They had done a brilliant job of making themselves Covid-secure and it will be challenging for them to have to make further adjustments.

"It's particularly tough on businesses in the late-night sector, some of which have still not yet had the opportunity to open.

"We do hope the six-month horizon mentioned by the prime minister represents a worst-case scenario and that business can get back to normal more quickly."

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said the government's own data suggested that only 5% of infections were linked to hospitality venues.

She added that the curbs announced by Mr Johnson would come as "another crushing blow for many hospitality businesses struggling to recover".

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Around 900,000 employees are still on furlough - and the scheme is due to end next moth.

Ross McNally, chief executive and executive chairman of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, said: "The new restrictions on pubs, bars and restaurants will dismay many in the hospitality and leisure sectors already bracing themselves for the withdrawal of furlough support.

“We therefore call on government to consider a targeted, flexible approach to furlough to help mitigate the impact of the restrictions announced today.

“Overall, the PM has sought to strike the right balance between keeping the lid on the spread of the virus and sheltering the economy from even greater financial damage.

“There is nothing easy about this but clearly saving lives must be the priority.”

Royston Smith, Tory MP for Southampton Itchen, added: "I am concerned that any more restrictions on our economy come with enormous risk.

"But we can’t wait to see if hundreds or thousands begin to die in a second wave before we take action."