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PRINCE William made a private Zoom call to a Liverpool cafe owner after he spotted her crying on Channel 4 News about the devastating impact of the Tier 3 lockdown.
On October 9, Haywood appeared on Channel 4 News but struggled to contain her emotions when she talked about making her staff redundant and potentially closing her cafe.
The cafe owner and DJ Yousef were invited to speak privately with the Duke of Cambridge.
Both praised the Prince for spending 45 minutes chatting to them about how Liverpool’s hospitality industry has suffered badly during the pandemic.
The pair revealed the royal wanted to know “what was going on on the ground in Liverpool”.
Last week, Haywood closed the flagship Leaf restaurant on Liverpool’s normally bustling Bold Street for the foreseeable future.
She said this was because of the Tier Three restrictions and that if it closed, staff “were at least guaranteed two thirds of their wage”.
William has warned of a “mental health catastrophe” sparked by lockdown bans on socialising in a video call to struggling Tier 3 businesses.
During a video call with entrepreneurs, William discussed the challenges the industry is facing due to an explosion of coronavirus cases in recent weeks.
The second-in-line to the throne spoke to world renowned DJ Yousef behind the city’s Circus club nights and Natalie Haywood, an entrepreneur who runs the wedding, events and restaurant venues Leaf, Oh Me Oh My and One Fine Day, both in Liverpool.
All pubs and bars in the city are closed, unless they can serve meals, with households banned from mixing indoors and outdoors.
Manchester will be forced into Tier 3 from Friday after mayor Andy Burnham failed to reach a deal with the Government.
A number of other areas face the possibility of being put under the strict measures, including South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, the North East and Teesside.
Prince William got in touch on Monday after hearing of the battles being faced by businesses up and down the country, including Ms Heywood, who has already been forced to make 40 redundancies from her staff of 200.
She said: “William was extremely empathetic to our situation and really wanted to listen to what is actually happening on the ground.
“He was very focussed on the wellbeing of things and spoke of the mental health catastrophe Britain will face if people aren’t allowed to experience social aspects of their lives.
“Yousef told him that music, socialising and being with friends is absolutely central to dealing with people’s mental health and William absolutely agreed with that.
“The entertainment and leisure industry is the rocket fuel for the city and many other cities like ours throughout the country and without them whole sections of society are going to suffer.
“The Duke was really keen to understand the detail of how everyone is coping and what is being done by the government and on a local level.
“He seemed particularly impressed with the way Liverpool is supporting businesses, like the ‘Without Walls’ campaign for restaurants to use pavements and roads for outside dining which was a great help before the current restrictions.”
Ms Haywood said that despite temporarily closing her flagship Leaf venue on Bold Street to protect the business and secure staff wages, she is facing the prospect of making 85 more redundancies.
She added: “William agreed that we won’t really see the true effects of the virus for many months but was encouraged that businesses are pulling together by trying to help one another.
“The problem for a lot of businesses is being strangled by being in Tier 2 and people not being sure or able to get out and socialise, but they are being told to stay open with no support – this will be absolutely catastrophic for many businesses throughout the country.
“William even asked what he could do to help, but it was a big boost for him to take the time and listen to us for more than 45 minutes and I hope we can raise the profile of what is going on and how many businesses are suffering out there so they can get the help they need.”
She urged hospitality business owners to apply for the Liverpool City Region Hospitality and Leisure Support Grant in a bid to save hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs.
A royal aide said the issue of mental health was “always at the forefront of the duke and the duchess’s mind”.
They said: “It’s clear that different parts of the country are feeling the affects [of the pandemic] in different ways.
“The entertainment industry is at the heart of the city in ways that it isn’t for other cities.
“The Duke has been spending a great deal of time speaking to, and where he can, meeting communities across the country that have been affected.
“And it will only be in the coming months that we see how acutely this is being affected by what is happening.”
Liverpool was the first area to be put under Tier 3 restrictions on October 14, the highest possible level, meaning pubs and bars are closed and there is a ban on overnight stays outside the home.
However, restaurants and “food-based” pubs can remain open and you’re allowed to order an alcoholic drink as long as it is with a “substantial meal”.
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Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Liverpool, Zoom Video Communications, Mental health
World news – THAT – William consoled Liverpool cafe owner for 45 minutes in private Zoom chat