A Wandsworth restaurant owner has blasted the Government after it advised customers to stay away – but refused to order them to close.

In a press conference yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked people to avoid any unnecessary social contact, to work from home, and not visit pubs, clubs, restaurants, theatres or other social venues.

Tania Rahman, who runs Indian street food eatery Chit Chaat Chai in Old York Road, fears her restaurant and many others in Wandsworth will close with no customers coming through the door.

Unlike France, Italy and Republic of Ireland, the prime minister did not ban venues from opening – leaving restaurants like Ms Rahman’s unable to claim insurance with no guarantee of financial assistance.

She said: “From the announcement by the government yesterday the entire hospitality sector is at threat of going under, especially SME businesses like Chit Chaat Chai.

“Our livelihoods are at risk and there has been no contingency plan from the Government to help bail out our industry like they did for the banks in 2008?

“They have thrown us all under the bus and by not banning pubs and restaurants from opening, like they have done in other countries, they have effectively pushed the responsibility on to us and means we cannot claim on our insurance.

“No customers are coming through our door period at the moment and the hard truth is many businesses in Wandsworth will go under in a month if it continues like this.

"I’ve worked extremely hard to establish Chit Chaat Chai in Wandsworth, as I know many other restaurant owners, and publicans have done and the situation we’ve been put it into is absolutely terrifying. The biggest threat of Covid-19 is making people bankrupt.”

There are current 17 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Wandsworth.

Ms Rahman says Chit Chaat Chai remains open and she has put further measures in place to protect her staff and customers, including additional cleaning and personal hygiene measures.

“As it stands currently, we are planning to be open for Mother’s Day this Sunday,” added Rahman. “We are following the advice of the World Health Organisation. We have extra soap, water and sanitiser and at all sinks and waiter stations and our staff are being extra vigilant with hand-washing.

"We have introduced social distancing of two meters between staff and customers, to keep people as safe as possible and have moved furniture to make more space for those guests who would like to visit us. We still have our popular take-away menu with a selection of dishes that are available to be collected from the restaurant.

“These are extremely challenging and unprecedented times but we are determined to continue serve the good people of Wandsworth until we no longer can or are told we must close.”