We are right to be uneasy as Covid-19 brings unprecedented times and unpredictable challenges affecting our day-to-day living.
The Government announced on Monday 16 March we should avoid non-essential contact, to seriously consider working from home, and avoid confined spaces such as pubs and restaurants.
Then, on Friday 20 March, boom, the licensed trade imploded.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told pubs, cafés, bars and restaurants to close in an effort to curb the spread of Coronavirus. Regulations to enforce closure of premises quickly followed on Saturday 21 March. The Prime Minister then instructed us, ‘you must stay at home’ on Monday 23 March. Regulations followed restricting the movement of people and public gatherings, save for in specified circumstances.
The wheels of creating new UK legislation normally turn very slowly, but the Coronavirus Act 2020 sped through all stages and both Houses passed the changes on Wednesday 25 March, followed rapidly by even stricter controls under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020, and similar rules in Scotland and Wales, on Thursday 26 March.
Along with these restrictions, there was support to the industry including financial provisions for employees and the self-employed, giving all of us some hope. Whether they came quickly enough or in sufficient magnitude time will tell.
It is difficult to generate many positives from this whole affair. However, people are perhaps speaking less and conversing more, albeit by way of the telephone or video facilities. The most basic things in life take on a new value – walking, having food in the fridge, the health and wellbeing of loved ones. There are more people exercising, more consideration for our elderly and neighbours, and there's a nationwide strengthening of community bonds. We also have an overt appreciation for the NHS and other essential workers.
For the licensed trade – and those of us who have spent our careers supporting it – we can take some comfort from operators thinking outside the box, with deliveries, online services, streaming pub quizzes, and breweries making alcohol hand washes. The industry has also got together in trade groups to support each other and ensure that Government regularly considers their plight. There is online professional help and advice, such as The Morning Advertiser's panel of live experts who remotely answer questions from the on-trade.
It is tough, it is terrible in fact, but we owe it to ourselves, our employees and customers to remain focused, strong and wise. Although we may consider that the wheels of our very enjoyment have come to an abrupt halt we must ensure that they continue to turn, albeit slowly.
By staying safe, supporting and caring for each other, we as a trade will get through this and live to tell the tale.
The legal comments above/below are based upon the law and guidance at the time of writing. Please check our website at www.popall.co.uk for any updates.