A Michelin-starred chef who runs one of Devon’s top restaurants says he has “lost all faith in the system” after the announcement of new rules once the UK emerges from the second coronavirus lockdown.

The Elephant – overlooking Torquay harbourside – is run by chef proprietor Simon Hulstone and his wife Katy.

Simon took to Twitter to question why it was fair for arenas of up to 4,000 people to open, but his restaurant still has to book tables of no more than six people.

He joked: “We are now The Elephant indoor arena.”

And he added: “I’m confused, frustrated and angry.”

The Elephant was the first restaurant in Torquay to be awarded a Michelin star which it has maintained for 15 years.

Its website says: “We are currently closed in line with Government restrictions and fully intend to be open on from the 3rd of December when they have been lifted.”

It has been offering takeaway restaurant service two days a week during the second lockdown.

And Mr Hulstone’s stance has brought support from dozens of others in agreement.

The Elephant in Torquay

David Harrison replied that the system was ‘a joke’, adding: “It’s ridiculous mate, the rules just don’t add up! Regardless of the money they have made available it seems business having to close up for good is of little concern to them. No wonder people are truly fed up.”

One reply to his tweet agreed: “Fit a gym at the bar and a set of goalposts in the car park and all restaurants can open.”

Meanwhile, fellow chef Tom Lawson agreed that his restaurant could now seat 4,000 people – at one table!

Joe Gould agreed, explaining with irony: “It’s very simple Simon. Covid can’t spread if enough people gather at a massive venue. It is however extremely potent to groups of seven after 10pm. It’s just one of those weird science things you hear about.”

Restaurateurs have been angry at the way the rules for gyms and sporting arenas have loosened up while food establishments still face the same limitations.

The new rules for restaurants vary across all three tiers and Devon will not know which tiers it will be placed into until Thursday. The tiers are reviewed every 14 days.

Rules for hospitality venues within the Tier system include:

  • In Tier 1, they will be able to open until 23:00 GMT, with last orders at 22:00. This is so people leave gradually and not all at the same time.
  • In Tier 2, they can only open if they serve substantial meals. Alcohol can be served with that meal.
  • In Tier 3, hospitality venues must close apart from delivery, takeaway and drive-through services.

A maximum of 4,000 people will be allowed at outdoor events in the lowest-risk areas when the four-week lockdown in England ends on December 2.

Up to 2,000 people will be allowed in Tier 2 areas but none in Tier 3.

Indoor venues in tiers one and two can have a maximum of 1,000 spectators, with capacity across indoor and outdoor venues limited to 50%.

Organised grassroots sport will be able to resume, and gyms and leisure centres can reopen across all tiers.

More areas are set to be placed in the higher tiers – high risk or very high risk – after lockdown, Downing Street has said.

Gyms and non-essential shops have been closed in England since 5 November, but are expected to reopen in all areas. Gyms were previously allowed to open in tier three, despite initially being told to shut in some places.





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