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50% of pubs in limbo over whether to reopen on 4 July

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

In limbo: most operators are unsure whether they will open as early as 4 July
In limbo: most operators are unsure whether they will open as early as 4 July

Related tags: Coronavirus

A lack of Government guidance on its expectations for the pub trade once lockdown is lifted has left the sector in limbo over whether or not they will reopen on the tentative date of 4 July.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson​ said some hospitality business – including pubs – would be able to reopen as long as they could follow social distancing rules.

However, there is little-to-no clarity on what such measures would look like for the sector, what sort of pub businesses will be allowed to open their doors once again and whether there will be any financial support in place.

Can you reopen on 4 July?

  • Already open – 1%
  • No – 11%
  • Unclear and need more guide – 56%
  • Yes – 18%
  • Partial – 14%

More than half (56%) of pub operators responding to a HIM and MCA snap poll of hospitality industry leaders said they were unsure whether they could reopen on 4 July, calling for more guidance.

Not hopeful

Some 302 of the 464 respondents to the poll came from the pub trade, the majority of whom indicated they were not hopeful of reopening in the coming weeks.

Just 1% of pub respondents said they were already open, 11% said they wouldn’t reopen on 4 July, 14% said they could reopen partially and 18% said they would be able to open up again as soon as it was allowed.

One independent operator said: “Clarity for the small, independent owners is required very soon so that we know whether our business is viable or not. Being in limbo is extremely tough.”

Another added: “We desperately need some details behind the roadmap released over a week ago – we can plan for most eventualities but it’s impossible to do so not knowing what the restrictions will be, eg, outside only, social distancing measures, table service only? etc.”

While an independent operator said: “At present, the roadmap out of lockdown is unclear. The Government needs to issue clear guidelines as to the indicators they are looking at to enable us to move from one stage to the next, this would enable us to better prepare for reopening.”

Tells us nothing

He continued: “Simply saying ‘some businesses may be able to reopen’ tells us nothing if we don’t know whether we’re included in the ‘some’.

“Reopening a business with restrictions in place is fraught with risk. Essentially, heating and lighting cost the same and, as an independent, what does my landlord expect in return?

“Our wages bill is our largest single cost and what we’re hearing at the moment is likely to see this rise due us having to implement additional customer controls. I really don’t see this as a workable solution.

“I’d like for there to be more clarity, and before lockdown ends to see much tighter controls put in place for people entering the UK and travelling abroad. We have to be able to reassure the population that when lockdown ends it is safe to resume life as normal and not to be frightened of leaving home to socialise.”

Related topics: Legislation

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