Today (16 March), Prime Minister Boris Johnson ramped up the UK’s defences to protect the public against coronavirus, advising Brits to avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues, as well as stopping unnecessary travel.
In a statement shortly after the announcement, Nicholls called the move catastrophic, claiming the Government had “effectively shut the hospitality industry without support”.
“This announcement will lead to thousands of businesses closing their doors and hundreds of thousands of job losses,” she said.
Suffered unprecedented drops
“Over the past few weeks, the industry has suffered unprecedented drops in visits and many businesses are already on their knees.
“This latest advice leaves the industry in limbo, with no recourse to insurance. The Government must act now to stop them going under and protect the people’s jobs.
“These venues play a unique role as community hubs and it’s in all our interests to protect and preserve them so they are still there once we emerge from this crisis.
“We need immediate and far-reaching support from the Government and meaningful business continuity measures.”
Society of Independent Brewers chief executive James Calder likened the advice to leaving the sector in a “halfway house”.
While Calder said the Government was right to follow scientific advice to help slow the spread of the disease, he believed advising people to stay away from pubs rather than closing them was “ill thought”.
He said: “Government’s package of measures announced at the Budget last week were a step in the right direction, but we need more. A lot more.
“Pubs and the small breweries that supply them now need direct Government help if they are to survive.
“This evening and tomorrow we are speaking to the Treasury and No 10 to make those points in the strongest possible terms and we will keep the UK’s small, independent brewers updated.”