One household rule extra blow for northern pubs

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Safety first: many pubs in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and East Lancashire will experience cancelled bookings after the annoucement
Safety first: many pubs in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and East Lancashire will experience cancelled bookings after the annoucement

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News of strict restrictions on socialising between households has been dubbed “devastating” for the hospitality trade in the parts of England affected.

Different households can no longer meet up at pubs and bars as the Government seeks to tackle coronavirus transmission in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and East Lancashire.​ 

'Support bubbles', where a single-person household has joined another household and does not have to social distance, are permitted to socialise indoors.

Pubs have been told to “take steps” to discourage pub visits by members of different households, though the Government has not suggested ways to do this.

UKHospitality (UKH) chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We understand that safety is the priority, but it is still devastating news for hospitality businesses. They have spent a lot of time and money, which they can ill afford to lose at the minute, getting ready to reopen. For those people who work in those sectors, the security of their jobs remains uncertain.

“We now need clear communication to ensure that consumer confidence is not damaged further. We are also going to need further support for those businesses that cannot reopen. Full furlough ends tomorrow and businesses that remain closed are going to need help to protect jobs and keep their operations afloat.”

Responsibility urged


Sacha Lord, night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester said he would also be pushing for additional support for operators, including flexibility with the furlough scheme. 

His message to operators was: “I urge you to check bookings now for the weeks ahead. Please be responsible in advising the two households rule (except where there are bubbles) and ensure good track and trace measures are in place. 

“Customers will naturally now be more nervous when dining, so please look to utilise outdoor space to increase capacity and social distancing where possible. Please also consider how you can encourage and incentivise singles, couples and family households into your venues - they will still want to go out.”

He said it was “imperative” the virus was slowed down but recognised the restrictions would “strike another hammer blow” to businesses.

Lord added: “As a sector already on its knees, it's inevitable we will now see cancellations and reduced footfall across restaurants, pubs and bars, and I am also very concerned for the hotels in the area who are already struggling with a lack of tourism, football and events.”

Punters welcome

“To the general public, I want to make it clear that venues are still open for business and ready to welcome you. Within your household, please try and support your locals and favourites during this tough time. Many are taking part in the Eat Out To Help Out scheme from Monday, and I encourage you to enjoy what our region has to offer, albeit in a safe way.

"If you have a reservation booked over the next few weeks that is now no longer viable, please make sure you cancel or amend bookings to give our operators time to plan ahead and offer them the best chance of pulling through this.”

The restrictions form a daunting backdrop for pubs in Leicester, which have been allowed to reopen from Monday 3 August after a local lockdown prevented them from opening alongside others this month.

Alan Merryweather runs the Black Horse pub in Aylestone, Leicester and said the guidance given to hospitality over the new rules was confusing.

He told The Morning Advertiser (MA)​: “It’s like in March when Boris recommended people don't go to the pub [but did not order pubs to close]. I can’t dictate how people do it.

Merryweather added: “I'm just appalled with the Government, they have treated us appallingly. We will do everything asked of us like Test and Trace. But how do I govern that [different households meeting at pubs]? How do I know?” 

Another Leicester operator told the MAit would not be viable to reopen his micropub until the additional restrictions were lifted.

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