NEW coronavirus restrictions that come into force today have been blasted as ‘draconian’ with some working in the local hospitality industry even looking for other jobs.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this week that hospitality businesses must close at 10pm and all staff and customers should wear face masks unless sat at a table eating and drinking.

The new curfew is being introduced in a bid to prevent alcohol-fuelled breaches of social distancing rules, amid fears the UK could see 50,000 coronavirus cases a day by the middle of October without action.

But it comes as the hospitality industry struggles to recover after the lockdown earlier this year.

There has been a mixed reaction to the new rules in west Dorset with one pub landlord claiming it is a 'backwards step', but others have welcomed the move.

Simon Warry, landlord at The Crown Inn on West Bay Road, doesn’t think pubs are to blame.

“It’s a bit like shutting the gate after the horse has bolted and a backwards step,” he said.

“I think it is going to really hurt the business and will put a lot of people off coming in because customers and staff all have to wear face masks unless sat at the table - it doesn’t make the whole experience very pleasant. They are very tough new measures.”

He said as well as raising costs to have at least two members of staff on at a time, the weather is changing, and people will no longer sit outside so there will also be a reduction on tables.

He added: “I remember when we all used to shut at 11pm and it used to be bedlam in town when everyone turned out on the street at one time.

“It’s really quite draconian what they have done, it’s like a lockdown without a lockdown. I’m stunned as well that these measures could be enforced for six months.”

The changes will also have a negative impact on The Volunteer in Lyme Regis.

Landlady Becky O’Donnell said: “One member of staff is really not happy about wearing a mask so is looking elsewhere for another job. Our opening hours will be cut short as it is normally 11pm last orders, so it’s not good.”

Gail Kane at The Greyhound in Beaminster said it was ‘not a positive move’ and would be difficult, but if the ‘end result is that we go back to normal then it’s worth it’.

Neon, Bridport’s bar and grill, has had to close its doors completely for the time being.

Owners Mike and Ellen said: “We haven’t had much luck so far with Neon. We were due to open on March 27 but went into lockdown. Now we have been open for seven weeks and closed again.

“Our landlord has been absolutely fantastic with rent cancellations and then reductions, so this has helped a great deal.

“We are in the process of setting up an app for table service. Once this is done, we will open from 5pm to 10pm Wednesday to Saturday for food and drink. We will then also start a food collection and delivery.

“Until then, unfortunately based on our current business model of a late-night bar, we have had no alternative and have had to close our doors as there is no point opening at 9pm and closing at 10pm.”

But Sian Thompson, manager at The Bull Hotel in Bridport, said it wouldn’t impact them too much and they welcome the move.

“As a company, Fullers has already incorporated table service only, we didn’t often have tables larger than six,” she said.

“Apart from staff wearing face masks and closing an hour early, it doesn’t affect us too much.”

Neil Chilcott, landlord at The George Hotel in Bridport, said closing the pub at 10pm also wouldn’t affect them too much.

He said: “We have to abide by it, it’s going to be hard for the staff to keep their masks on all the time so they are going to have to have more breaks, but if that’s what we’ve got to do, that’s what we’re going to do.”