The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has written to the health secretary asking him to explain why pubs are facing stricter measures than gyms and shops under the Government's new tier system.
The consumer organisation has called on the Government to stop “scapegoating” pubs for the pandemic and questioned why no evidence to support the restrictions has been forthcoming.
Pubs singled out
CAMRA national chairman Nik Antona said: “Pubs and pubgoers are more than willing to play their part in reducing the spread of Covid-19 – indeed, many publicans have invested thousands to ensure they offered Covid-secure environments over the past few months.
“Yet pubs continue to be singled out as a scapegoat for the spread of Covid-19 without any compelling evidence to support the claim. These incoherent and inconsistent restrictions will decimate businesses, cost jobs and lead to the loss of community pubs up and down the country.
“This is a make-or-break moment for thousands of community pubs that now face measures such as only being allowed to serve alcohol with a substantial meal - without any evidence presented that this measure would help to control the virus.
“To make matters worse, while people will be able to mix in people’s homes over the festive period pubs won’t be able to open normally over the same period, a decision that spells doom instead of cheer for pubs this Christmas."
Urgently publish evidence
He added: “The Government must urgently publish the evidence behind their decisions – or think again about these new measures. With 72% of hospitality businesses saying they expect to fail next year - even before these new restrictions were announced – it is clear pubs and breweries urgently need a new, dedicated financial support package to survive.”
British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Emma McClarkin also called for the evidence of virus transmission in pubs to be released.
She said: “How can it be that pubs cannot properly open while households can mix in private settings? The Government data has consistently shown that house-to-house transmission is one of the highest, whereas hospitality has accounted for as little as 2% of COVID incidences when open.
“Pubs are a controlled, safe and regulated environment to socialise in – following all Government guidelines and working with NHS track and trace. They are part of the solution for a safe and enjoyable Christmas, not the problem.
“It seems the Government has chosen to inflict unnecessary pain and irreversible damage on our sector without publishing evidence alongside these decisions.