Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester face mass redundancies and "boarded-up high streets" amid a collapse of the hospitality sector unless coronavirus restrictions are reviewed, the cities' leaders have warned the government.
A letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Business Secretary Alok Sharma from the leaders and chief executives of the three city councils said restrictions in place in the regions were threatening a "huge, disproportionate" economic impact.
They said hotel occupancy was down to 30% and footfall had dropped by up to 70%.
In the letter, they said: "The stark reality is that these businesses are facing the prospect of a complete decimation in trade, not just in the short term but as we look ahead to the sector's traditional lifeblood of the Christmas period and almost certainly continuing into spring/summer of next year which we know with certainty will result in mass market failure, huge levels of redundancies and depleted and boarded up high streets."
They said coronavirus guidance in place in the cities that advises people not to mix with other households was "unenforceable" as well as being "contradictory and confusing".
And they urged ministers to make the advice law, and compensate businesses with a package of support – or allow mixing within the "rule of six" in controlled environments.
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