Closure decisions must be 'proportionate, transparent and based on clear science'

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Support needed: trade bodies have called for more financial help for pubs such as the Knight and Garter, Leicester, in local lockdowns (image: Everards)
Support needed: trade bodies have called for more financial help for pubs such as the Knight and Garter, Leicester, in local lockdowns (image: Everards)

Related tags Legislation Health and safety Leicester

The Government must help out pubs that are closed by councils under new powers to limit local outbreaks of coronavirus, trade bodies have said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined plans to give local authorities the discretion to close businesses​ to tackle outbreaks of Covid-19 in a briefing today (Friday 17 July). 

However, pub sector representatives have warned of the demise of many businesses if they are not supported through a further closure period.

Both the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and UKHospitality (UKH) have said the Government should consult businesses and compensate them in the event of local lockdowns.

Lost for good

Leicester was the first area to be placed into a local lockdown after a substantial number of new Covid-19 cases​. Pubs in the East Midlands city can still not reopen with measures set to be eased slightly next week.

The BBPA said it was still waiting for a response from Business Secretary Alok Sharma after calling for compensation for any pub businesses subject to closure due to Covid-19 following the Leicester lockdown announcement.​ The Government has said elsewhere no additional funding will be given to the area.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA said: “Pubs must be properly consulted ahead of local powers being used or Ministerial decisions being taken to close down their businesses or restrict trading beyond the already agreed Covid-secure one-metre plus mitigation measures. Any closure direction must be accompanied with a compensation package to support pub businesses held in lockdown. 

“Local pubs have already been hit hard by more than three months of closure and are only now just at the start of their long road to recovery. Any further setbacks without additional financial support may lead to local pubs and local jobs being lost for good jobs. The Government cannot allow this to happen.”   

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls also spoke of the devastating impact of the shutdown period on pub businesses and said any additional closure decisions should be science-based.

Clear and consistent 

She said: “With the new powers for councils to act on local outbreaks, it’s important that Government guidance is clear and consistently applied by local authorities. 

“Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality businesses have been among the hardest hit by this crisis, so any decision to close these venues in the future, if necessary, must be proportionate, transparent and based on clear science.”

The Prime Minister said from tomorrow (Saturday 18 July) local authorities would be able to “close specific premises, shut public outdoor spaces, and cancel events.”

A number of pubs have decided to close temporarily after being informed of customers who had tested positive for Covid-19 after visiting their premises. They said they had carried out deep cleans and been tested for the virus before reopening again. 

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