Industry calls for Bolton pub support package

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Support needed: pub businesses closed in local lockdowns should receive support with rent, debt and other costs, sector voices have said (image: JThomas, Geograph)
Support needed: pub businesses closed in local lockdowns should receive support with rent, debt and other costs, sector voices have said (image: JThomas, Geograph)

Related tags Legislation Greater manchester Bolton Health and safety Drink ukhospitality

A number of pub sector trade bodies have called on the Government to issue financial support for venues in Bolton following the forced closure of its hospitality businesses.

Pubs and bars in the Greater Manchester town were ordered to close for punters eating and dining on-site immediately yesterday​ (Tuesday 8 September) amid a significant increase in Covid-19 cases there.

What’s more, venues must not open between 10pm-5am while existing guidance on socialising between households is set to be brought into law.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the town has risen to 120 cases per 100,000, making it the worst affected area in the country. 

Jon-Paul Nolan operates the wet-led House Without a Name pub in the town and said his pub could not offer a takeaway service.

He told The Morning Advertiser (MA)​: “I don’t believe there would be a market for it, or that revenue would be enough to stay open either.”

No spare cash

The operator closed his site as soon as he heard the news, announced by Health Secretary Matt Hancock in the House of Commons.

“Trade has been 60% of pre-lockdown trade. We’ve survived, just. There’s no spare cash. The grant we received was appreciated but that has all gone.,”

Nolan is hopeful he will be offered rent concessions by Star Pubs & Bars in addition to furloughing his team again. 

“The lack of detail from the Government is shocking,” he said.

Rent support and an extension of the furlough scheme should be introduced to help protect jobs and the future of hospitality businesses in the town, industry groups said.

Engagement needed

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said there must be a strong support package to see businesses like Nolan’s “through to the other side of this shutdown.” Clarity on when reopening will be permitted was also needed.

“Those hospitality businesses in Bolton who have done the right thing, having made themselves Covid-secure in order to safely trade their way out of a crisis are now being forced to close,” she said.

Nicholls said it was inevitable hospitality venues would be linked to more coronavirus cases given they are the only sector operating contact-tracing with many businesses having “gone out of their way” to collect data for NHS Test and Trace.

“It is vital that the Government urgently engages with us to help businesses understand what more they can do, and what triggers this level of lockdown.”

Lost opportunity

Steve Alton chief executive of the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) said pubs in Bolton were already “fragile” with many having built up debts in lockdown.

They would also not be able to build upon the increased footfall and consumer confidence from the Government's Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

“Building upon the momentum in August is absolutely critical if they are to survive through to 2021 and this opportunity has now been lost," Alton added. "Operating effective Test & Trace processes in our pubs remains critical to their long term survival both allowing lockdowns to be localised and maintaining hard fought consumer confidence in professionally run safe pubs.”

CAMRA called on the Government to introduce support for pubs impacted by local lockdowns and pub companies to immediately cancel rent for tied tenants in Bolton.

The organisation’s national chairman Nik Antona added: “While people in Bolton are unable to enjoy a pub pint with friends and family at the moment, they can still show support for their local pub by using takeaway or delivery services.” 

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