Government recognises pubs' 'good work' with economic lockdowns avoided

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Covid-secure: hospitality remaining open in areas subjected to strict bans on socialising between households is a sign businesses are committed to public health
Covid-secure: hospitality remaining open in areas subjected to strict bans on socialising between households is a sign businesses are committed to public health

Related tags Health and safety Manchester

Pubs remaining open in parts of northern England where new restrictions on social gatherings have been imposed is a sign that authorities recognise the sector’s commitment to public health, trade bodies have said.

Residents in Oldham, Blackburn and parts of Pendle were subject to additional rules on socialising from midnight Saturday 24 August. Individuals in these areas should not socialise with anyone from outside their household in a bid to curb high numbers of infections in those areas.

People have been advised to avoid using public transport except when travel is essential and limit the numbers of people attending weddings and funerals to household members.

Restaurants in those areas have also been encouraged to “halt walk-ins” and only seat people who make reservations in advance.

There had been fears that the areas could be forced to face an economic lockdown as experienced in Leicester a few weeks ago, with hospitality businesses shutdown.

Significant challenge

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “Pubs remain open in Oldham, Pendle and Blackburn, showing the Government recognises they are following the strict Covid-19 safety measures they must have in place and are working with NHS Track & Trace enabling them to operate safely.”

She added: “It remains the case that pubgoers must respect all the measures put in place by their local pub. For those in the areas where additional measures have been put in place, that also means not meeting with different households.

“Varying restrictions put in place at short notice can be a significant challenge for our sector, so it is crucial any future restrictions are set out clearly and with as much notice as possible to minimise disruption.”

Her words echoed those of a joint statement issued by Greater Manchester’s mayor, night-time economy advisor, brewers and pub operators, which called on the public to do their bit to adhere to socialising rules.

Covid-secure measures

Steven Alton, British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) said the restrictions would “understandably have an impact on the businesses in those locations”.

He added: “The fact our members’ venues have not been asked to close however, shows the measures that pubs have taken to ensure they are operating in a Covid-secure way have been recognised by Government.

“As a sector, we need to build on that confidence by continuing to implement these measures, particularly with robust Test & Trace data collection, so that in the event of a localised outbreak, those potentially affected can be quickly and efficiently identified.”

Other parts of England are subject to a ban on indoor socialising yet residents can meet up with different households in beer gardens.

Sacha Lord, night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, added: "We absolutely want to avoid any stricter measures being enforced here in Greater Manchester, but from the countless calls I've had with operators, it's clear they need more support in helping to implement and also to understand the guidance. "The handling of the pandemic and the restrictions placed upon the hospitality sector have been confusing from the start, and while we have been trying to outline procedures in the best way possible, the lack of planning, guidance and notice given by the central Government has been shocking from the outset."

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