BUSINESSES in York and across the region are due to learn their post-lockdown fate today, with the Government set to announce which tiers each area will be placed in ahead of Christmas.

With York’s coronavirus rate lower than the regional and national averages, there are calls for the city to be placed in Tier 1 - the lowest of the three tiers - after the national lockdown measures end on December 2.

In all tiers, essential and non-essential retail can remain open, but in Tier 2, pubs and bars must close, unless operating as restaurants. Hospitality venues can only serve alcohol with substantial meals.

In Tier 3, pubs and restaurants will only be able to offer takeaway and delivery services, while indoor entertainment, hotels and other accommodation will close.

Paul Crossman, licensee of the Swan, Slip Inn and Volunteer Arms in York and chair of the Campaign for Pubs, which has been leading national calls for urgent action to save pubs, said he had been hearing rumours that very few places would be in Tier 1, and so he anticipated that York would be placed in Tier 2.

He said none of his pubs served substantial meals and so would have to remain closed in Tier 2 after the lockdown finishes.

He said he was in a better position than many, in that two of the pubs were free houses, and they would survive, but he warned: “I think it’s inevitable that there will be some closures in York – that some pubs will never reopen.”

John Pybus, the landlord of the Blue Bell pub, in Fossgate, said it would be an “exceptionally difficult trading environment for us” if the city was placed in Tier 2, “but we’ll have to see what we can do as it’s Christmas”.

The pub temporarily closed in response to the city moving into Tier 2 restrictions last month before the second national lockdown.

John added: “Any other month of the year the Tier 2 restrictions would make us unviable and we’d have to shut but because it’s Christmas we’d have to figure something out.”

Meanwhile, York Outer MP Julian Sturdy said he fears a “a marked economic impact” if the city is put into higher tiers, “which could be fatal for a number of local businesses that need their normal pre-Christmas trade to survive".

He said: “The risk is that we are judged not on our city-wide numbers, but on a regional basis, and get clobbered with higher tier restrictions because of higher rates in Hull, Scarborough and Leeds.”

He said this would be “incredibly unfair” in view of the “many painful sacrifices” York residents and businesses have made to get the virus down locally.

It would mean there is little incentive to follow the rules, he said, as the actions of York people would not have produced any change in the kind of restrictions the city is under.

He commented: “The ban on households mixing in hospitality venues and their serving alcohol under Tier 2, as well as being a further huge blow to pubs and eateries after a month of closure, will have a dangerous knock-on impact for retail by reducing high street footfall. York shop stats show an additional 10-15 per cent loss from the old Tier 2 alone in October, and the new tier is even more restrictive.

“I am particularly concerned about what Tier 2 would mean for pubs that do not provide ‘substantial meals’, and cannot therefore serve alcohol under the new rules, and have written today [Wednesday] to the Health Secretary, firmly requesting a review so venues that don’t do food can serve alcohol as under the old Tier 2. The bottom line is businesses need to be able to trade to survive.”

York Central MP Rachael Maskell told The Press on Tuesday that data would suggest that York should move to Tier 1 when the national lockdown ends on December 2.

However, the Prime Minister “provided more uncertainty” when he announced that there would be a regional approach to the new tier system, she added.

As well as being below the regional and national averages, York’s coronavirus rate has halved in less than a month - after reaching a peak in October.

The city’s rate of Covid-19 cases reached a high of 309.6 per 100,000 people on October 20.

But 28 days later, on November 17, it had more than halved to 153.4 per 100,000 according to council data.