Fury at pub alcohol ban in Wales

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Alcohol ban: pubs cannot serve alcohol to customers in their venues but off-licence sales can continue until 10pm
Alcohol ban: pubs cannot serve alcohol to customers in their venues but off-licence sales can continue until 10pm

Related tags Beer Alcohol Wales Welsh pub lockdown Health and safety Legislation

A ban on serving alcohol in pubs has been met with anger from publicans in Wales, who say it means their businesses are not viable.

Shops and pubs with an off-licence can sell alcoholic drinks to take away until a cut-off point of 10pm under fresh rules, however pub operators will not be allowed to serve drinks to pub goers and must close at 6pm from Friday 4 December.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said restrictions must target spaces where the virus thrives, particularly in the run-up to the festive period when rules on socialising in private homes are to be relaxed.

However, Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said the curfew and drinks ban would “destroy the sector”.

She said: “Evenings are the key trading period for pubs and enjoying a beer, with or without a meal, is one of life's simple pleasures – forcing pubs to close at 6pm and banning alcohol sales all but closes them down in reality. 

“When you factor in that December, with the festive season, is the most important time of the year for pub goers and our sector, this really couldn’t come at a worse time.”

The rules will be reviewed on 17 December.

No rationale 

Some 3,227 pubs in Wales will be affected, the BBPA said. This figure includes 2,151 community pubs that will be forced to close while 1,076 pubs that are more food led will be rendered unviable, the body suggested.

Chief executive of Camerons Brewery Chris Soley tweeted that the company’s only site presently trading in Wales would be forced to close “without any clear rationale”.

He said restrictive measures on the trade in England meant just four pubs out of an 80-site portfolio would be able to open under present rules.

UKHospitality Cymru executive Director David Chapman called the rules “a massive blow to hospitality”. 

He added: “We feel isolated and feel we are unjustly bearing the brunt of Government actions when retail and other areas are allowed to trade relatively unhindered.

Hurdle for businesses

“These businesses have been devastated all year, struggled to stay afloat in the face of diminished consumer confidence and stifling measures and, even with the financial support, this could be a hurdle too many.”

Licensee Amanda Jones called the alcohol ban “stupid” and said it meant her family’s pub in Bridgend faced an uncertain future. “God knows when or if it will be reopened,” she said.

“[The Government has] not stopped supermarkets, who are selling it the same way as non-essential goods in the shops before.”

However, an additional package of financial support from the Welsh Government has been welcomed.

A £160m "Restrictions Business Fund" will offer businesses in the hospitality, tourism and leisure sectors that pay non-domestic rates (NDR) grants of up to £5,000.

A sector-specific £180m Economic Resilience Fund would be made available for hospitality, tourism and leisure businesses.

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