Public reluctant to back pub closures to counter Covid spike

By Stuart Stone

- Last updated on GMT

Calling time? more than one-in-ten respondents to a survey from Steetbees appear to endorse continued trading in pubs and bars despite the risk of infection
Calling time? more than one-in-ten respondents to a survey from Steetbees appear to endorse continued trading in pubs and bars despite the risk of infection

Related tags Coronavirus Health and safety Legislation

New research has found that despite almost two-thirds (61%) of Brits believing pub closures will make a difference to rising Covid-19 infection rates, only half (50%) think they should be temporarily shuttered.

According to figures from global intelligence platform Streetbees, while half of Brits think pubs and bars should close temporarily to address the second spike, a quarter (24%) are against such a measure and a further 26% say they don’t know because everything keeps changing so quickly.

This comes despite 61% of respondents believing that calling last orders will make a difference to infection rates, with just over one-in-four (28%) of those quizzed dismissive of the difference pub closures could make and just over one-in-ten (11%) claiming they don’t know.  

The disparity appears to reflect the ongoing struggle to strike a balance between protecting jobs and the economy amid Britain’s first official recession for more than a decade​, and efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19, with more than one-in-ten respondents seeming to endorse continued trading despite the risk of infection. 

According to latest figures, a further 16,982 people tested positive for coronavirus in the UK during the week to 18 October – a leap of almost a third compared to the previous seven days, with the number of positive cases on 18 October alone up 32 per cent on the previous Sunday.

What’s more, according to Streetbees’ findings, half of Brits (50%) claim that media coverage of the hospitality sector during the ongong pandemic has made them less likely to visit a pub or bar, compared to one-in-ten (11%) who claim that it has made them more likely.  

An additional 39% claim that media coverage has made no impact on their willingness to visit a hospitality venue.

Pub closure numbers

On top of this, Streetbees found that almost half (43%) of respondents have seen a pub, bar or restaurant in their area close permanently due to the ongoing pandemic.

This comes after new research from CGA and AlixPartners found that Britain has almost 25,000 fewer​ restaurants, pubs, bars and other licensed sites open than it did prior to Covid-19 lockdown in March.

The latest Market Recovery Monitor revealed just over 90,000 premises across Britain were trading at the end of September, compared to around 115,000 licensed premises recorded by CGA in March.

Additionally, Suffolk-based brewer and pub operator Greene King has announced that it is preparing to close 79 venues and cut hundreds of jobs​ due to a fall in trade.


Job loss fears 

Finally, Streetbees also found that more than a third (37%) of Brits know someone who worked in the hospitality sector and has lost their job due to Covid-19.

This follows a survey of more than 11,000 Brits by global intelligence platform Piplsay revealing that more than half of workers​ (59%) fear losing their jobs when the original Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme wraps at the end of October.

According to CGA’s Business Confidence Survey​​ in May, more than four in every five (83%) hospitality operators furloughed at least 90% of their staff during the novel coronavirus crisis, with 96% of sites putting more than 70% of workers on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

What’s more, pub and hospitality trade bodies UKHospitality, the British Institute of Innkeeping and the British Beer & Pub Association have forecast that the sectors face the loss of 750,000 jobs without urgent Government support amid the introduction of the new tiered system of Covid measures. 

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