1 in 5 English pubs facing second shutdown

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Shutdown fears: one in five English pubs could be closed in new measures next week, according to figures seen by the Morning Advertiser
Shutdown fears: one in five English pubs could be closed in new measures next week, according to figures seen by the Morning Advertiser

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One in five English pubs could be closed if the Government chooses to shut down pubs in the north of England next week.

Almost 7,200 pubs have potential closure looming over them currently according to figures from real estate adviser, Altus Group.

Further restrictions are expected to hit pubs in areas already under localised measures, including the North East (1705 pubs), Lancashire (1127), Merseyside (1173), West Yorkshire (1357) and Greater Manchester (1809).

This is a total of 7,171 sites, making up 19% of the 37,616 pubs in England.

The numbers come as ministers are meeting to discuss how to best tackle the rising infection rates of coronavirus across the country, with speculation of a three-tiered system which could see hospitality closed in the North.

Proportionate approach

It has been speculated the university city of Nottingham could also be subject to the harshest measures as well, given rocketing coronavirus case numbers there.

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick refused to rule out the temporary closure of pubs​ when speaking to the BBC this morning (Thursday 8 October).

“We're trying to take a regional and proportionate approach and that means reviewing the passage of the virus in each part of the country,” he said.

“It is true that the virus is rising, in terms of number of cases, significantly in the north west, in the north east and in a number of other cities like Nottingham for example, near my own constituency.”

However, several northern city leaders have already said they would not accept such restrictions unless they also came with further jobs support.

Mayor for Greater Manchester Andy Burnham tweeted to say: “The first time I heard that all bars and restaurants across the North are to close was when I read it in @thetimes​. I’ve had two meetings with Cabinet Ministers this week along with other Mayors and it wasn’t mentioned once.”

He told The Guardian​ newspaper​ there was “no way” he would sign off on the closure of any business “without a local furlough scheme,” with leaders in Liverpool​, Newcastle and Leeds also reportedly demanding to see the restrictions before they are imposed.

Jenrick had said if further steps were taken the Government would “take very seriously how we can help and support those individuals and businesses”.

“We understand that hospitality has been asked to bear a greater burden than almost any other sector of the economy,” he said.

Calls for support

The minister also pointed to existing support such as a £1,500 grant for businesses for every three weeks they are forced to close under local measures.

However, trade bodies have called for urgent sector-specific support that reaches well beyond this.

It comes after a shutdown of pubs in five areas of Scotland was announced, with pubs in other parts of the country under stricter measures banning the serving of alcohol indoors.

Robert Hayton, head of property tax at Altus Group, said: “if tougher lockdown measures are needed mandating the closure of pubs, to cushion such a devastating blow, discerning targeted additional support will be immediately required.” 

One operator worried about the impact of a second shutdown is Liam Jordan, manager of the Three Legged Mare pub in York.

He told The Morning Advertiser (MA)​ his wet-led pub was bracing for a shutdown and felt the sector was being unfairly targeted: "We’re [pubs] the first people to blame because it's simple to do that when there’s alcohol involved. It's so mind blowingly confusing. Realistically, we’re not the real issue - parts of us yes, nobody’s exempt."

The Government's winter economy plan had not revealed any initiatives to help the sector specifically, placing it in a precarious situation as the end of the furlough scheme approaches, Jordan added.

Survival 'next to impossible'

"I appreciate you can't save everybody but you need to help people," he continued. 

"It will be tough, not just for us for everywhere around the country. How on earth are you supposed to survive? It's next to impossible."

Lindsey Armstrong is one of the publicans in the North East who have had to operate under tough trading conditions, with households banned from meeting.

“If we end up in a second lockdown which is looking increasingly likely then I fear for the future of my business and the industry," she told The MA ​when previous measures were announced.

 “The hospitality industry as a whole is on its knees and the government are not doing anything to help when it is then who has destroyed it, pubs are being made a scape goat for Covid when in reality we were a very safe place to be.”

Pubs in Bolton were closed for almost a month after the Greater Manchester town recorded the worst rates of infection in the country but were able to reopen on Saturday 3 October.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: "Make no mistake, a local lockdown without immediate additional and adequate support will destroy many pubs.  

“Our sector is already facing the 10pm curfew, rule of six, table service only and low levels of consumer confidence, meaning many are already struggling to stay open. A local lockdown would push many to breaking point – forcing them to close for good with countless jobs lost, impacting livelihoods and communities forever."

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