Opinion

Hammer blow for pubs flies in the face of logic

By Ed Bedington

- Last updated on GMT

Following rules: 'pubs have complied with everything that’s been asked of them' says The Morning Advertiser editor Ed Bedington
Following rules: 'pubs have complied with everything that’s been asked of them' says The Morning Advertiser editor Ed Bedington

Related tags: Government, Legislation, Opening, Prime minister

It’s 10pm on a Friday night, the pubs have switched off the lights, barred the doors and the crowds are now heaving on the streets, mingling, singing, hugging and inviting each other back for impromptu house parties...

Clearly this 10pm curfew was a well thought out piece of strategy, not at all made up on the fly, (or possibly on a plane back from a weekend away in Italy, cough).

Once again, the hospitality sector is back in the sights of a Government who appear to be hell bent on making policy decisions that fly in the face of logic, data and the basic facts and once again target the pub and bar sector.

About 5% of cases have come from the hospitality sector, yet once again, the burden of control measures is placed at our creaking doors.

Pubs, by and large have been Covid-safe environments, [with] stringent controls and cleaning keeping the virus at bay. Being forced to close earlier at an arbitrary time plucked out of thin air will do nothing to control the spread of the virus, if anything, as mentioned above, it will have the opposite effect.

Many in the sector have pointed out that pubs have been open since July and we did not see a spike in cases, yet we’ve seen a return to schools and a push by Government for people to go back to work, and lo-and-behold, cases rise. What’s Boris’ solution? Curfew on pubs...

A cynic would suggest that the decision to impose high-profile controls onto pubs is a classic bit of misdirection, a move by a weak and failing Government to desperately create the illusion that it’s still in control. “Don’t look over there, look here… what do you mean there’s a problem with track and trace? No no, let’s focus on those troublesome pubs…”

Good grief, less than a month ago, the Government was actually encouraging people to go to the pub, even picking up half the tab!! This Government has done so many U-turns even it doesn’t know which way is up.

Pubs have complied with everything that’s been asked of them, and as a result, the infection rates have been controlled in their outlets, yet, this is their reward for that loyalty.

Of course, the situation could be worse, we could have faced a second lockdown, and let’s hope to God Boris doesn’t get that desperate, but any restrictions imposed on a struggling sector, not to mention the poor operators focused on the late night sector, has to be based on logic and reality, not written on the back of a fag packet or used to distract from more serious problems.

Taking trading time away from pubs is not going to help, nor is the focus on pubs as a problem going to help to encourage fragile consumer confidence

The impact of the restrictions should be softened with some further support, but while, surprisingly, the Government support was initially strong, those taps appear to have been turned off – let’s hope they can be loosened and we see a bit of carrot to go with the stick.

Hopefully these new restrictions are short lived and we see some sense, then we can move the Government away from a policy of pinning the blame on pubs and back to tackling the virus where it’s a real problem, not where it’s being controlled and contained.

Related topics: Legislation

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