The hospitality sector has slammed the government’s “illogical” decision to introduce a 10pm curfew as fears grow that it could prove the final straw for operators that had only just started to recover from lockdown.

The new measures, announced this week, require all pubs, bars, restaurants and clubs to close at 10pm and will limit all operators to table service only. The restrictions could last for up to six months.

Boxpark chief executive Roger Wade said he felt “disgusted” by the “knee-jerk reaction” to the rise in cases, blasting it as “inconsistent and illogical” after the government spent months encouraging people to come back to hospitality venues through initiatives such as its Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

“The hospitality industry is being used as a scapegoat,” he said, accusing the government of playing politics rather than making decisions based on evidence. “The government wants coverage about how drastic it’s being and what great measures it’s taking, but it’s like putting a plaster on an artery wound.”

Before the restrictions were introduced, the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) warned that 58% of UK clubs would not survive another two months without further government support. NTIA chief executive Michael Kill said the 10pm curfew would put nightclub operators into an even worse financial position as it would mean losing some of their most lucrative trading hours.

“The wind has been knocked out of operators – we’re at a stage of desperation,” he said, adding that the curfew was likely to create “even more stress between the tenants and landlords”, many of which have yet to agree deals on rent payments.

Shaftesbury chief executive Brian Bickell also expressed dismay over the introduction of the 10pm curfew.

“Businesses are picking themselves up and getting good regular footfall. So this is disappointing,” he said.