lockdown live

Pubs hit by tier four closures in 'longest winter in living memory'

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Legislation, lockdown, Health and safety, Coronavirus, Christmas, Manchester, England, Scotland, Wales

As pubs adapt to new coronavirus measures, The Morning Advertiser will bring you the latest updates and reaction on this live blog.

16.01 - 'Heartbreaking'

15.50 - PM must 'step up' and offer more support

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association has responded to the news of further pub closures in England.

She said: “The update on the virus and associated tier restrictions today is yet another blow to a sector already on its knees. It is clear that it is going to be the longest winter in living memory for Britain’s pubs and brewers. Unless there is a greater package of financial support from the Government to secure our pubs and the brewers that supply them, a wave of business failures in the New Year is inevitable.

“We desperately need the Prime Minister to step up to the plate and commit to an enhanced package of measure for pubs and brewers. If the Government acts now they can still secure pubs and jobs by giving locals in England the sort of support those in Wales and Scotland are getting. Without this the outlook is very bleak indeed.”

15.39 - Operator able to open just 27 sites post-Christmas

Loungers chairman and co-founder Alex Reilley has tweeted his initial estimations of tier four's impact on his group.

15.35 - Which areas are moving up a tier?

Areas moving to tier four will be: Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgshire, the parts of Essex not already in tier four, Waverley in Surrey and Hampshire.

Areas moving to tier three will be: Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Swindon, Isle of White, New Forest, Northamptonshire and Cheshire/Warrington.

Cornwall and Herefordshire will move from tier one to tier two.

14.44 - Health Sec to lead press briefing

Health secretary Matt Hancock is to address the public in a press conference at 3pm. It is expected he will announce any extensions of the tier system to more areas in England.

The MA​ will keep you updated.

13.09 - Operators describe empty pubs amid Christmas closures

11.37 - What impact has the pandemic had on your mental health?

My Post (19)

11.04 - Beefeater and Brewers Fayre owner asks for rent cut

Pub restaurant group Whitbread has written to its landlords asking for a 50% rent cut for the next three months, given the hit from coronavirus restrictions to trade, according to property site CoStar​.

The operator of hotel brand Premier Inn and pub restaurant chains Beefeater and Brewers Fayre said it was asking for concessions "in recognition of the current environment."

A Whitbread spokesperson said: "Throughout the pandemic to date, we have paid our rent commitments in full, even when our hotels and restaurants were forced to close.

"With ongoing government restrictions expected to result in subdued market demand into the first half of 2021, we are now asking our landlords to support us, as other stakeholders have during the pandemic, through a reduction in rent for the December quarter in recognition of the current environment."

The company had suggested to staff it would be able to rein back redundancy plans last month, The Morning Advertiser​ reported.

This came after reports Whitbread could make up to 6,000 staff redundant. 

10.56 - 'Quietest year on record for our pubs'

From Christmas Eve to Boxing Day, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has predicted 2.6m pints and 830,000 dinners will be served in the on-trade but expects these figures to fall after the Government’s announcement, restricting ‘Christmas bubbles’ to just Christmas Day.

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10.05 - Marston's to operate SA Brain's sites

Pub group Marston's has confirmed it will take on SA Brain's 156 pubs in Wales on a combination of leased and management contract arrangements.

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The move will see 1,300 employees transferring to Marston’s.

It comes after Welsh pubs have been subject to tough restrictions, including a 'firebreak' lockdown in the autumn, alcohol ban, and a fresh closure period as of Sunday 20 December.

Wednesday 23 December, 09.04 - Ministers meet to discuss extension of tier 4 rules

Communities secretary, Robert Jenrick, has confirmed the Government is considering placing more areas of England under the toughest coronavirus measures.

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Jenrick confirmed the Government’s Covid-O operations committee would meet this morning (Wednesday 23 December), speaking to BBC Breakfast​.

Any decisions are to be announced “as soon as we can”, the minister said.

Several newspapers including The Times​ and The Daily Mail​ have reported the areas under consideration may be West Sussex and parts of East Sussex, presently in tier two, given their proximity to tier four areas.

There has been speculation tier changes could come into effect as early as Boxing Day.

The minister added: “What we want to do now is just make sure that the tiered system is right, that it’s sufficiently robust, that it can withstand and do the job which is to keep the virus under control, even in these new changed circumstances.”

The meeting comes after the UK has faced international isolation following the discovery of a highly infectious strain of coronavirus, prevalent in the south of England.

Where can pubs open in England currently?

14.32 - What impact has the pandemic had on your mental health?

14.07 - What were the biggest pub property stories of 2020?

In the final pub property round-up of 2020 The Morning Advertiser (MA)​ looks back on 20 of the biggest deals, revamps and reopenings covered in the past 12 months.

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12.43 - 'Merry Christmas from the pub dog'

Is your pub doing anything to spread festive cheer amid a tough Christmas for customers and operators? Let us know on rzvyl.unjxvaf@jeoz.pbz​ 

11.36 - Sector on course to lose more than £53bn in sales during ‘disaster’ 2020

The UK’s hospitality sector has seen sales figures plummet by more than £53bn in 2020 – with more to come from collapsed Christmas trading – new research from CGA has found.

Produced in tandem with sector trade body UKHospitality, CGA’s Survival to Revival report, the eighth edition of its Future Shock series, revealed a £53.3bn year-on-year drop sales drop between the start of April and the end of September.

What’s more, it revealed both falling consumer and business confidence, with 78% of British adults concerned about the long-term financial implications of the pandemic, and 27% of busines leaders of multi-site groups predicting they will be unviable by mid-2021 with current levels of support.

Additionally, the report – published before the announcement of tier four on 19 December – forecast bleak Christmas trading while 98% of England’s licensed premises in severely restricted tier two and three areas.

Reporting by Stuart Stone

10.53 - Infection fears subduing trade, tier 2 pub tweets

10.45 - Pubs 'expected to switch on and off like a tap'

Colin Wilkinson, managing director for the Scottish Licensed Trade Association has said the body is "bitterly disappointed" by the anticipated three-week closure of pubs in mainland Scotland from Boxing Day.

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Many members had already taken the decision to remain closed until next year given tough trading restrictions, Wilkinson said.

He added: “The wider issue has been the uncertainty of the situation with businesses expected to switch on and off like a tap. It’s not just a case of opening the doors – premises have to order supplies and organise staff rotas.

“Many of Scotland’s pubs, bars and restaurants still face the threat of permanent closure and the risk of job losses still hangs over the heads of those employed in an industry in crisis, even with the current furlough scheme which is in place.

“While we will continue to work with the Scottish Government and do everything possible to suppress the virus, as I said yesterday these new constraints will have an even greater negative impact on the sector and those in the supply chain at this time as we are losing any resemblance of the vitally important Christmas and New Year trade.

“January and February are always tough months for hospitality and prolonged closure and tough restrictions will drive many businesses to the brink.”

10.38 - County council praised for helping pubs

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has voiced support for Leicestershire County Council after the authority pledged to double funds provided by the Government with an extra £1,000 for struggling rural pubs.

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The council’s offer of a further £1,000 to Leicestershire’s pubs – thought to be the only pledge of its kind in the country – is intended to keep people in jobs, support pubs as the focal points of their local communities and help them to diversify and provide extra services to residents.

At the time of writing, the region finds itself in tier three of the Government’s Covid alert system meaning that pubs are required to close and can only operate takeaway or delivery service. 

Leicestershire County Council’s pledge comes after the Government announced a £1,000 Christmas Support Payment​ for wet-led pubs on 1 December.

“Pubs are often the beating heart of a small, rural community – and hospitality has taken a big hit during the pandemic,” deputy leader of Leicestershire County Council Blake Pain explained.  

“We’ve ploughed almost £3m into supporting community groups and small businesses – and want to go further. That’s why we’re doubling the money provided by the Government and offering £1,000 to help struggling rural pubs."

Reporting by Stuart Stone

Tuesday 22 December, 09.40 - 'Likely measures will need to be increased in some places'

The UK Government's chief scientific adviser suggested that the numbers of those infected with a particularly infectious strain of coronavirus will grow over the next few months, at a briefing last night (Monday 21 December).

The growth would necessitate an increase in tier three and tier four measures across England, Patrick Vallance said.

"I think it is likely that this will grow in numbers of the variant across the country and I think it's likely, therefore, that measures will need to be increased in some places, in due course, not reduced," he explained. 

The next review of areas' rules will be on 30 December, followed by a review on 13 January.

Vallance said it was "inevitable" numbers of cases would rise after the Christmas period.

Initial research has found the new variant can be up to 70% more transmissible than other strains.

The variant is thought to be "everywhere" in the country by now, according to Vallance.  

A trade body called for the Prime Minister to set out a roadmap for the hospitality sector to ease out of restrictions yesterday.

15.29 - When will lockdown start in Scotland?

Mainland Scotland will see pub closures for a three week period just after midnight on Boxing Day.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined the plans over the weekend in response to growing worries about a new strain of coronavirus prevalent in the south of England.

She said: "To those who say this action is not justified because our current case levels are relatively low, I would say this: four weeks ago, London’s cases were very low too - and now they are running out of control. That is what we face is we do nothing, or do too little."

Pubs will shut alongside non essential shops but takeaway services will still be allowed.

  • Do you run a pub in Scotland? What are your thoughts about the restrictions from Boxing Day? Get in touch on rzvyl.unjxvaf@jeoz.pbz​ 

14.17 - Fears over illegal house parties on New Year's Eve

Should pubs be allowed to open for longer on New Year's Eve to encourage revellers to socialise safely? One operator from Burgess Hill in West Sussex believes they should.

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His words come after it has been estimated there will be some 5,000 illegal gatherings.

The Prime Minister said over the weekend rules would not be eased on 31 December and the public must not break coronavirus laws to see in the new year.

13.19 - BBPA 'closely monitoring' closed border situation

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has said it has not heard any reports of members struggling with supply after France shut its border with the UK. However, the trade body is keeping an eye on the situation given the worrying timing.

France closed its border yesterday (Sunday 20 December), meaning no vehicles will be able to leave from the port of Dover for 48 hours.

While France has not permitted suppliers from crossing the English Channel into England, the announcement has caused confusion and long delays on each side of the border amid the busy lead-up to Christmas.

BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “We are monitoring the situation regarding the border closely. There are not currently any reports of issues with supply, but we are concerned with the timing of this decision and the impact on companies’ preparations for EU exit and in addressing demands on the supply chain in relation to Christmas and the Covid pandemic. Importing and exporting is a delicate balance and the matter is developing rapidly. 

“We are in touch with the relevant Government agencies to ensure that we are in a position to respond to any problems.”

The shutdown was the result of international concerns over a new strain of coronavirus that may be up to 70% more transmissible and is thought to have originated in Kent.

More than 30 countries have suspended flights from the UK in response.

11.55 - Lockdown brought forward in Wales

A national lockdown in Wales was brought forward over the weekend, signalling the closure of pubs over the festive period.

The lockdown was set to come into force from 28 December but is now in effect, with all businesses but essential shops shut from Sunday 20 December.

First Minister Mark Drakeford is to give a press briefing shortly.

Pubs in Wales had already been subject to strict rules including an alcohol ban and 6pm trading limit​, meaning many had felt forced to closed for the year already.

Elsewhere, mainland Scotland will be subject to level four measures from Boxing Day, seeing the closure of pubs for at least three weeks.

  • Are you affected by the lockdowns in Scotland or Wales? Please get in touch to share your story on rzvyl.unjxvaf@jeoz.pbz​ 

11.30 - What do tier 4 rules mean for pubs?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that regions across the south would be moving into tier four over the weekend, forcing many to change their plans for the festive period, with no ‘Christmas bubbles’ allowed for those under the strictest measures.

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The rules for venues in tier four are broadly the same as in those in tier three. Hospitality businesses such as pubs, restaurants, cafés, bars and social clubs, must close with the exception of providing food and drink for takeaway (until 11pm), click and collect, drive through or delivery services.

Here is what restrictions in England look like mapped out:

11.29 - Share your story of mental health and working in the pub sector

The Morning Advertiser​ is asking for operators and pub employees to share their mental health experiences this year, to inform its coverage of the topic.

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10.16 - Put pubs at 'centre of communities' in 2021, brewery says

North Yorkshire's Black Sheep Brewery has called on the public to support pubs in the new year after restrictions are eased.

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Brewery chief executive Charlene Lyons, said: “We all love to head to the pub, not just for the beer and food, but for the social experience that we have all so desperately missed this year. 

“The development of vaccines will not only help save lives; we also hope they will be key to unlocking so many other parts of our society that we have previously taken for granted. As we step out of the shadow of Covid in 2021, it will be the perfect opportunity to, once again, place the pub at the centre of our communities.

“We have all found that being separated from friends and family, or even just socially distanced from them, has made us realise what we have missed in the past year.  As a society we have created communities throughout history, and across the generations they have centred around a location that can bring people together, which has often been the pub.

“Our nation’s pubs have faced a real battle to survive this year, but with the public’s support, they can reclaim their place at the heart of the country, and we can rediscover the joys of socialising with our nearest and dearest.”

10.06 - How will your pub be helping its community over the festive period?

Is your pub doing something to raise spirits or help those in need in your community?

Get in touch on rzvyl.unjxvaf@jeoz.pbz​ to tell us your story or share your experiences on social media by tweeting us @morningad​. 

Monday 21 December, 9.33 - Pubs plea for support as subdued Christmas approaches 

The hospitality sector must be given more financial support if it is to make it through the bleak winter ahead, trade bodies and city leaders have told the Government.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called for businesses to be compensated for lost income over this period, after London was among the areas plunged into severe tier four measures over the weekend.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said it was "not tenable" for closures to continue into the new year without "huge additional support".

Friday 18 December - Northern Ireland facing 6 week lockdown from Boxing Day

Pubs, cafés and restaurants will be forced to close and only operate as takeaway businesses for six weeks from 26 December.

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In addition, non-essential shops will close from the end of trading on Christmas Eve.

Ministers will look to review the measures after four weeks.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

14.30 - Furlough to be extended again

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will be extended by a further month to the end of April 2021, the Chancellor has announced.

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Some 80% of employees’ salary not worked will be covered by the scheme (up to £2,500 a month) until the end of April and employers will only have to pay wages, national insurance contributions and pensions for hours worked alongside national insurance contributions and pensions for hours not worked.

The eligibility criteria for the UK-wide scheme will remain unchanged and these changes will continue to apply to all devolved administrations.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

12.34 - Eight more areas to be placed in tier 3

In an address to the House of Commons, health secretary Matt Hancock announced more areas will be moving into tier three.

As of one-minute past midnight on Saturday 19 December, the following areas will move to tier three:

  • Bedfordshire
  • Buckinghamshire
  • Berkshire
  • Peterborough
  • The whole of Hertfordshire
  • Surrey, except Waverley
  • Hastings and Rother
  • Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant

Just two areas are now able to move down a tier as a result of falling infection rates and from the same time on Saturday as above, Bristol and North Somerset will move from tier three to tier two and Herefordshire will move from tier two to tier one.

  • Read the full breaking story here​.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

Thursday 17 December, 9.51 - Hancock to announce tier review results

Health secretary Matt Hancock is due to reveal any changes to the tiered system later today.

Government officials met yesterday to discuss the system.

Since London and areas of Hertfordshire and Essex were moved to tier three, some 20,465 of England's pubs are now in the highest tier​, according to analysis from real estate adviser Altus Group.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

15.30 - Welsh pubs set to close again under another lockdown

New lockdown measures will be enforced, including the closure of pubs, later this month (December), First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced.

Pubs and restaurants in Wales, will close from 6pm on Christmas Day and all non-essential shops, alongside leisure and fitness centres will close at the end of trading on Christmas Eve.

  • Read the full story here​.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

Wednesday 16 December, 10.23 - Tier review set to take place today

The first review of the tiered system is due today.

At the time the strengthened tiers were announced, the Government stated the tiers would be reviewed fortnightly.

This comes after it was announced on Monday (14 December), London alongside parts of Hertfordshire and Essex would be moving into tier three.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

16.11 - Over 4,400 more pubs to close from tonight due to new tier 3 area restrictions

Some 15,955 hospitality venues will be forced to close tonight, with the exception of serving takeaways, analysis from real estate adviser Altus Group has found.

Placing the 32 London boroughs alongside areas in Essex and Hertfordshire into tier three means 4,469 pubs have to shut alongside 8,361 restaurants, 2,853 cafés , 1,744 hotels and guest houses, and 272 wine bars.

The measures come into force as of one minute past midnight but for hospitality, it will mean closing at 11pm tonight (Tuesday 15 December).

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

Tuesday 15 December, 15.31 - Three Scottish regions to move to level 3

Three local authorities are set to move up to level three this Friday (18 December) at 6pm, after an increase in infection rates.

Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and East Lothian will all move following "significant increases in their infection rates" the Scottish Government said.

All other areas remain unchanged in their levels however, Cabinet has today (Tuesday 15 December) agreed there will be a review of the levels next week (Tuesday 22 December).

Argyll & Bute will remain in level two however, households in the outer Argyll islands will receive some easing of measures, with the application of the same rules that currently apply in some other islands, allowing up to six people from two households to meet inside a home.

These are Islay/Jura/Colonsay/Oronsay, alongside Coll/Tiree and Mull/Iona/Ulva/Erraid/Gometra.

What are the levels for Scottish pubs?

Level four​​ – under this level, pubs and restaurants would be closed. Schools would remain open but all non-essential shops and many other venues would close. This would be quite similar to the first lockdown in the spring.

Level three​​ – pubs and restaurants would be allowed to open until 6pm to serve food and non-alcoholic drinks. However, pubs could not sell alcohol indoors or outdoors. This level is similar to the type of restrictions already faced by hospitality in most of the central belt.

Level two​​ – pubs can serve alcohol indoors with a main meal until 8pm. This would be similar to the measures imposed on pubs outside the central belt. At the moment, a maximum of six people from two households can meet at hospitality venues and pubs can serve alcohol outdoors until 10pm. 

Level one​​ – pubs would be able to open until 10.30pm. Six people from two households can meet indoors but this was not allowed straightaway. The areas of Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles will be permitted from Friday 13 November.

Level zero​​ – this level would be something close to normality. It would allow a maximum of eight people from three different households to meet up indoors.

16.15 - Operators react to tier three announcement 

16.04 - Pubs in London, Essex and Hertfordshire to close

Greater London, the south and west of Essex, and areas in the south of Hertfordshire will be placed under tier three from Wednesday 16 December, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed.

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15.01 - Parts of Essex and Hertfordshire to be placed into tier 3, reports say

It has been reported that parts of Essex and Hertfordshire may also be placed into tier three alongside London.

The Morning Advertiser​ will bring you the latest updates on this live blog.

12.59 - Hopes dashed for 'greater granularity' in tier review

Operators in low-infection rural areas who had been hoping to not be grouped in with cities in the tier review may be disappointed, according to newspaper reports.

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The Government is to announce its review of areas' designated coronavirus measures this week (Wednesday 16 December). However, it has been reported the Government will not 'decouple' rural areas with low infection rates from their neighbouring cities with higher rates.

Health secretary Matt Hancock wrote to Tory MPs to say there was a risk these low-infection satellite areas would catch up or overtake their more infectious neighbours, according to the Telegraph​ newspaper.

This will come as a huge blow to many operators who have been hoping for a reprieve in the tier review.

Several pub operators told The Morning Advertiser (MA)​ that they were frustrated pubs just miles away from them were permitted to trade in a lower tier. 

One commented on The MA​ Facebook page: “Here in our tiny Cotswold village we are in tier three......whilst towns four miles either side of us are in tier two.....you couldn't make it up…”

Licensees also described annoyance that their areas with lower infections had been placed in the same tier as more densely-populated areas reporting stronger infection rates.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs he would consider a more “granular” approach to tier statuses, ahead of the hotly-debated vote​ on the tier system.

12.34 - Night czar calls for more support 

London's night czar Amy Lamé has said the city's hospitality venues need "targeted" financial support should it enter tier three.

12.14 - How many pubs would have to close should London enter tier 3?

Some 13,929 hospitality venues would be forced to close if tier three measures come into force for London's 32 boroughs and the City, according to the real estate adviser Altus Group. 

An additional 1,560 hotels and guest houses would also have to close.

Some 3,635 pubs and 240 wine bars would be hit, the real estate adviser said.

11.48 - London 'set to enter tier 3' 

Speculation has been building that the Government may announce the capital will be placed into the toughest band of coronavirus measures shortly. 

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It has been reported by the Telegraph​ and other newspapers that health secretary Matt Hancock will announce the move this afternoon, after worrying case numbers across the city.

The Sun​ has reported the rules could come into force as soon as tomorrow.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan told Sky News he had told the Government they must appreciate the move "will be catastrophic to our hospitality industry".

Khan has called for all schools in the capital to close.

He said additional support would be needed to support businesses and must go "over and above" what is already in place.

The country's ability to recover from the pandemic would be massively hindered should many businesses in London go bust during what should be their "golden quarter," the Mayor added.

11.31 - 'Rules are rules'

Have you experienced customers trying to encourage you to turn a blind eye to coronavirus rule breaking? What has your response been? Get in touch on rzvyl.unjxvaf@jeoz.pbz​ 

11.29 - Pub memories shared for new campaign

A coalition of trade groups - including the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII), the Campaign for Real Ale and the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) - have rallied together to raise awareness of pubs’ worth to MPs and the public.

Both operators and punters are encouraged to share why #PubsMatter​ to them on social media and contact their MP about further support for the sector. Resources to contact MPs can be found on the campaign’s website.

10.52 - December beer sales set to be 90% lower than ‘normal’

Beer sales in pubs are expected to be 90% lower than ‘normal’ this month – a drop of 270m pints, one trade association has estimated.

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The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has analysed its beer sales volume survey, finding typically during December, pubs sell almost 300m pints of beer.

Due to restrictions under the tier system, the BBPA predicted just 30m pints of beer will be sold in pubs this month.

It calculated as a result of the lower beer sales, the pub and brewing sector will see a reduction of £935m in turnover in pints sold.

The trade association has called on the Government to review and reduce the tier restrictions in place or provide a “full and proper grant support system” to help them survive the winter and reopen properly in 2021.

Monday 14 December, 10.09 - Licensees don't want customers 'hanging on the balance of a decision'

Operators will find out this week if their trading rules are to be changed, when the Government announces its first review of which coronavirus measures are applied to which areas in England.

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The review will be outlined on Wednesday 16 December. There have been calls for London to be placed into the toughest tier after infection rates have surpassed levels some northern areas had when the system began earlier this month.

Night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord is among those calling for pubs to be allowed to reopen in the region, under tier two rules.

However, many wet-led operators across the country will only be able to reopen if they are placed into tier one, where rules like the rule of six and 11pm curfew must be followed.

Operator of the Mowden Pub, Simon Leadbetter, said he has already decided even if the review allows his Darlington venue to reopen, he will not.

He said: “We felt it unfair to leave our customers plans hanging on the balance of a decision that could go either way and potentially leave them with no plans and no food booked in the event of us not being open [on Christmas Day].”

Plans to allow up to three households to mix in private homes over the festive period was “adding insult to injury,” the operator added.

“So to stock back up, bring staff back in and all the other costs involved of reopening could be a potential risk as we just have no idea what levels of business we would get back to, certainly nowhere near the turnover we would expect for the festive period.”

Another operator wrote on The Morning Advertiser's​ Facebook page that they ran a pub in Southampton, in tier two, and were not expecting to be open until February 2021. 

Trade bodies have called on the Government to relax restrictions on pubs or provide a heftier package of financial support to see them through the winter.

16.27 - Those told to self-isolate can now apply for grant via app

England and Wales's NHS Covid-19 app has been updated so that users can now directly apply for a £500 grant if they have to self-isolate.

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Previously, users had to wait to be contacted by operators working for NHS Test and Trace.

14.00 - Worry over London tier status as cases rise

Many of the capital's hospitality businesses would be forced to permanently close should the city be placed into the toughest tier of coronavirus measures, a trade association has claimed.

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Chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), Emma McClarkin, said it was unfair that theatres and sports stadiums were subject to less stringent rules than pubs under the new tier system. 

The BBPA’s McClarkin said: “Tier two is already killing London pubs’ ability to trade, but moving into tier three would truly be the writing on the wall for many more of the capital’s locals.

“Our pubs are being unfairly targeted by the new tier restrictions. How is it that sports grounds and theatres in London can open, but not pubs? The Government has to stop picking on our pubs and recognise its own evidence that shows they are safe.

"If it won’t, then it must deliver grant support in line with that of Scotland and Wales to ensure pubs like those in London facing tier two and potentially tier three restrictions can survive."

11.57 - ‘No hard evidence on curfew’ admits Gov adviser Vallance

The decision to implement a curfew on pubs, restaurants and the rest of the hospitality sector was a “policy decision” that had “no hard evidence” behind it preventing the spread of coronavirus, the Government’s chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance has admitted.

Vallance and chief medical officer Chris Whitty were asked if there was something that could be done in the structure in scientific advice that could be a bit more forensic about those restrictions on the sector that have a very big impact on certain people.

The scientific advisers said they are trying very hard to get data but can’t give specific data on it, and nor can anyone else across the world.

9.59 - Government warned of 'pushing the problem indoors'

Tough measures on pubs runs the risk of encouraging unsafe socialising in private homes, the Government has been told.

Thursday 10 December, 9.26 - Pub sales down 84% on first weekend of re-opening

Overall sales across all pubs in the UK last weekend were 84% lower than last year, a survey by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has found.

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The BBPA found that only four in 10 pubs opened across the UK this weekend.

Just over half of the pub operators (53%) the BBPA surveyed said they already now expect to close more pubs in the coming weeks. 

Its chief executive Emma McClarkin called on the Government to review the restrictions on pubs or offer more financial support to help them through the next few months.

“These numbers illustrate the perilous situation our pubs find themselves in this Christmas. The tier restrictions that have been unfairly placed on our pubs are killing them. This must change, or thousands of pubs simply won’t survive.  

“How else can the Government expect our pubs to survive if they cannot open or operate properly? It is cruel and unfair on hardworking publicans up and down the country who have more than played their part in fighting the virus.  

“Christmas should be a time where we can enjoy one another’s company in the pub round a warm fire and with a fresh pint in hand. Christmas sadly just won’t be the same this year without our pubs being able to open properly. The new restrictions are knocking the stuffing out of our Christmas trade. It truly is madness when you consider cinemas, theatres and sports venues can still open and serve alcohol.  

“It’s simple. Either the Government reduces these extreme restrictions, so pubs have a fighting chance of survival, or they recognise the damage they are doing to our pubs and provide them with the proper level of grants they need."

14.50 - Estimated 2,500 pubs lost in 2020

More than 2,000 pubs have been lost this year, over double the number in previous years, it has been estimated.

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The lockdowns and restrictions have meant pubs have closed for long periods of time and then had to operate with strict measures in place when reopening.

During an Instagram Live last night (Tuesday 8 December), The Morning Advertiser ​editor Ed Bedington, British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin and celebrity chef and pub operator Tom Kerridge highlighted the plight of pubs amid the coronavirus crisis.

Kerridge asked how many pubs had been lost due to the pandemic so far, to which McClarkin estimated it was about 5%.

She said: “It would be really tough to put an accurate number on that right now but we estimate 5% of pubs have probably already closed for good.

“Of course, we are hoping we can change that by making the Government give us what we need to see us through the pandemic or looking at creating a less restrictive environment for us to trade in.”

14.18 - Sector welcomes debt enforcement and lease forfeiture moratoria extension 

11.41 - Tier 3 'catastrophic' for London hospitality businesses

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has warned tier three could see the demise of many hospitality venues in the capital.

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Khan told Sky News​: “If London were to go into tier three it would be catastrophic to those industries already really crippling under the Covid pandemic.

“That could mean many shops going bust, many bars, pubs and restaurants going bust.

“We're keen to make sure we stay in tier two. Tier two, as well, has got many challenges for us but it's really important that London has continued to make the huge sacrifices they've done."

  • Are you an operator in London? How do you feel about the reports London may enter tier three? Get in touch on rzvyl.unjxvaf@jeoz.pbz​ 

10.59 - Tier 2 pubs 'taking all reasonable steps to abide by one household indoor rule'

A number of operators have told The Morning Advertiser​ they are relying on customers to be honest about a booking being from one household when dining inside at venues.

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Licensee of the Unruly Pig in Bromeswell, Suffolk, Brendan Padfield said: “We are taking it seriously. All customers are asked to confirm they are single household or bubble and it would appear most, if not all customers are adhering.

“I did intervene with a customer. It was party of four. We asked whether part of a single household, they hesitated and then said not. A lot of customers are finding it inconvenient.

“We put the party on two separate tables with a partition in between them. They had their heads around the partitions and were talking and I did have to intervene."

He added: “The rules are there for a reason, I might not agree with they are the rules. It is difficult to police. If we have suspicions, we will check, but neither are we interrogating them.

“It is our job to take all reasonable steps to abide by and help implementation of the law but it is not for us to enforce the law.

“We are a hospitality business, we take it seriously, when we have suspicions, we do double check but we haven’t gone to the extent of seeking to see driving licences. Even if we did, that wouldn’t conclusive proof. It would be too intrusive and not conclusive.”

10.13 - How have the Covid tiers affected trading in pubs?

The Morning Advertiser’s​ social media followers shared their experiences of trading under various levels of the Government’s more stringent Covid alert system since 2 December.

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After barely a week of trading under these new rules, operators have taken to social media to tell The MA ​that the new restrictions are biting hard and that they’ve had enough.

Toni Perham Lake, who currently runs a pub under tier two restrictions in Essex, commented: “Wet-led but now trying to do food to accommodate the rules. Trade down 80%. People don’t want to come to a cocktail wine bar and have food. We’ve tried it. It doesn’t work. 

“The constant changing of rules and super strict regulations on the industry is killing us. Supermarkets and shopping centres are rammed and not Covid safe yet the pubs etc are suffering and are the most Covid safe that I have seen.  

“The stupid, unthought out restrictions take all the enjoyment out of running a good business,” she continued. “Christmas should be our busiest time but now it looks like it’s just not going to happen for the hospitality industry – but that ok as we can all have booze purchased from a supermarket and a massive house party.” 

What’s more, Laura Totten commented: “Mentally drained. Scraping by but it is sucking the joy out of it all. People are willing to eat, it's not being able to be with their friends that is stopping most of my regulars.” 

Wednesday 9 December, 9.25 - Fears London will be put into tier three

Londoners have been urged to follow coronavirus rules as cases in the capital continue to rise.

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The latest data from Public Health England shows 20 of London's boroughs have infection rates higher than the average in England. Infection rates rose in 23 boroughs rose last week.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock was asked on LBC radio station if the city could be placed into the toughest tier of measures.

He said: "My message to everybody in London is let's stick by the rules and not push the boundaries of the rules."

"The case numbers are going up in parts of London, in parts of Essex, in parts of Kent, and we know what happens when case numbers go up, sadly more people end up in hospital and more people end up dying."

Under tier two rules, pubs and restaurants can operate if they serve alcohol with a substantial meal but different households cannot mix indoors. In tier three, pubs would have to close and would only be allowed to operate takeaway services.

Areas in tier three currently include Kent, Birmingham and Greater Manchester. Government officials are to review each area's tier status on Wednesday 16 December.

16.28 - Government asked to review tier restrictions

The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII)'s chief executive Steven Alton has outlined the organisation's hopes for the review of tiers on Wednesday 16 December.

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He said: “Our members’ businesses in tier two and tier three are struggling hugely under the strangling restrictions in place. If the review on 16 December allows for movement into a lower tier, they will be looking carefully at whether the costs involved in reopening pubs is justified versus the likely level of trade. These costs include bringing back staff and having the right level of stock available to ensure their customers can be served, whilst many have low or no cash reserves.

“It isn’t just pubs that have been affected by these unfair and unfounded restrictions - the whole supply chain needs time to react to any movement and the supply of all fresh produce, and in particular, beer, will be particularly challenging.

“The Government must do all it can to ensure licensees are supported with as much notice as possible to allow for these changes, but the fact remains that in either of the highest tiers, our pubs will find trading profitably a huge struggle. Whilst any restrictions are in place, additional financial support in terms of enhanced grants and trade compensation must be forthcoming.

“We would encourage the Government to look again at the restrictions in tier two, in particular, the mixing of households and the removal of the need for a substantial meal. These sensible adaptations to the existing tier restrictions will not undermine public health risks but will allow a significant number of our pubs to provide essential places for us all to socialise safely.”

15.29 - Welsh Government ‘actively considering’ further coronavirus measures

Wales’ health minister has warned further restrictions could be on the horizon after Christmas as the country records rising virus cases.

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Vaughan Gething told journalists the situation was “very serious” and said health services were coming “under considerable and sustained pressure”. 

He said the country was the only part of the UK where figures were not falling at the end of November.

Public Health Wales recorded a further 2,021 coronavirus cases today, the first time the country has recorded more than 2,000 new cases in a day. A week ago, the number was 802 cases a day.

Pubs were told to close at 6pm and banned from serving alcohol from Friday 4 December, in a move operators branded “stupid”.

13.57 - Operator expresses frustration at 'clear attack on pubs'

Operator Kyle Michael has told The Morning Advertiser​ of his frustration that compliance at pubs has been heavily checked while feeling like other parts of society can allow the virus to run riot.

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One of his pubs, the White Swan in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, received two police visits and one council visit over the weekend. However, the same regulation has not been applied to other areas, Michael believes.

He said: "I think sadly it's clear this is no longer about scientific data and is a clear attack on pubs. The social distancing, cleaning regimes, checking in and all the other adaptations we made and money we spent [has been] ignored for a perception that all pubs are bad. Anyone can see that the vast majority of pubs have obeyed the rules and the data shows minimal transmission in pubs yet here we are being targeted."

He added: "Meanwhile groups (of many more than six) gathered on the streets and shops were crowded and we've all seen the pictures of shoppers and queues outside Primark with no social distancing."

  • Have local authorities been to visit your pub? What was the experience like? Get in touch on rzvyl.unjxvaf@jeoz.pbz​ 

13.47 - £2bn supermarket rate payback ‘should go to pubs’

The nearly £2bn worth of rate relief supermarkets are paying back should be handed to the hospitality and tourism sector, in a bid to help the trade survive the coronavirus pandemic, a trade body has said.

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A number of the big supermarkets have said they will repay the business rates relief awarded to them during the crisis.

Asda is handing back £340m, Tesco £585m, Morrisons £274m, Sainsbury’s £440m. Altus Group estimated the big six supermarkets (those mentioned plus Aldi about £190m and Lidl approximately £100m) would have saved around £1.9bn in bills during the tax year to 31 March 2021.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “It is an admirable and altruistic gesture from a company that is clearly in a much better financial situation than the vast majority of those in hospitality.

“The question now is what happens to this money, which the Government had intended to invest in supporting businesses.

“We are calling on the Government to earmark that money, to create a fund for those hospitality and tourism businesses that are at high risk of failure, have been closed since March or that have had no grant support, similar to the Cultural Recovery Fund.

12.17 - UK gears up for vaccine roll-out

Mass vaccination will start tomorrow in the UK (Tuesday 8 December), with the elderly and care workers the first to receive a vaccine.  

11.36 - London Mayor warns shoppers to be safe

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has urged people to be safe when out shopping, following criticism of packed shopping areas over the weekend.

He said: "My message to everyone across the country, not just in London, is please shop safely and shop local as well. It's really important people follow the rules, they wear a face mask when they go inside shops, they carry hand sanitiser with them, they try and keep their social distance.

"What none of us wants to do is undo all the progress we have made over the last few months."

11.02 - Where are pubs closed in Scotland?

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will outline what rules the areas under the tightest Scottish coronavirus measures are to face when restrictions are relaxed. She will make this announcement tomorrow (Tuesday 8 December).

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Several areas moved into level four on Friday 20 November, forcing pubs to close. These areas are expected to move out of level four from 6pm on Friday 11 December but it is not yet known whether they will each move into level three or two.

Those council areas are: the City of Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, Stirling and West Lothian.

Here is what the current map of restrictions in Scotland looks like:

Sturgeon confirmed to the BBC that level four measures would be lifted on 11 December. 

She said: "Level four restrictions in the areas will be lifted on 11 December. Before then we will have to make an assessment based on up-to-date data at the time about what levels these areas then go into.

"Will they go back to level three or could some of them go to level two? We can't make that assessment right now because we need to wait and see what the data is, but the level four restrictions will be lifted on 11 December."

10.24 - Rent crisis 'needs to be resolved'

Industry trade body UKHospitality (UKH) has warned that the sector faces a ‘new year bloodbath of hospitality business failures’ unless rent moratoria are extended.

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While UKH has highlighted that the Government has thus far shielded businesses from eviction and aggressive enforcement activity by landlords over the past nine months through the lease forfeiture and debt enforcement moratoria, the body has claimed that their expiration on 31 December could trigger widespread business failures and job losses. 

The trade body estimates that there is still an estimated £1.6bn in unsettled rent from the Covid crisis period hovering over the hospitality sector, which will increase further with December’s rent quarter payment date on 25 December. 

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality said: "An extension to the moratoria is needed immediately, as this issue is threatening the future of so many otherwise viable businesses and their teams.

“The rent crisis, with the December quarterly rent day and the end of the moratoria fast approaching, is the biggest threat to the recovery and future of hospitality.

“There can be no more excuses about Parliamentary time or available finance; this needs to be resolved, otherwise the support Government has provided to the sector so far this year will all be in vain."

Monday 7 December, 9.34 - Sector questions closures amid busy high streets 

Pub sector figures have questioned existing restrictions for the hospitality sector after images showed English shoppers failing to social distance across the country this weekend.

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It was the first weekend non-essential retail had been open since the four-week lockdown began on Thursday 5 November. Several news websites published images of crowded streets and packed queues in shopping hubs.

Crowds took to Oxford Street and Regent Street at the weekend with long queues outside the Harrods department store and other shops.

Some shoppers were pictured not social distancing between others or wearing masks, leading to criticism from those in the pub sector over the heavy rules for hospitality.

A Christmas market in Nottingham was closed after social distancing concerns.

Operators complained that "controlled, supervised, well-run" pubs can not sell alcohol by itself under tier two measures while shopping centres had "no control".

Those in tier three - where hospitality venues were forced to remain closed after the lockdown lifted - were especially stung by the images.

Night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord asked: "Where does this make any sense?"

15.27 - Just 27% of BBPA members will reopen today

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has said 12,600 - just over one quarter of pubs in Britain - will reopen today, according to a membership survey.

New restrictions pubs

Pub operators also reported they were considering closing again if they could not make business under tier two food rules work.

It has called for support for English pubs to be increased to match that on offer to Welsh businesses.

Emma McClarkin, BBPA chief executive, said: “Of course, these pubs are looking forward to warmly welcoming customers and their communities back once more. It is just a shame so few of them are allowed to re-open and make a good go of it under the harsh new restrictions they now face. 

“For those pubs that are reopening, some fear they could close again as soon as this week because they expect trade to be so low.  

“Having invested £500 million in safety measures to ensure they are Covid-secure, it is ridiculous so many of our pubs are being forced to remain closed unfairly.  

“It is clear the meagre £1,000 one off payment for pubs this Christmas isn't going to be anywhere near enough to save those who simply cannot open or are completely unviable because of Government restrictions."

14.38 - Vaccine approval welcomed by sector

News that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been approved as safe to use in UK from next week has been met with delight by the hospitality trade.

The sector is pushing for further financial support from Government as it braces for months of continued restrictions.

14.02 - How many pubs will stay closed in December? 

Some 50,000 licensed outlets may have to remain closed as national lockdown restrictions end today (Wednesday 2 December) and tiered measures begin.

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The latest Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners highlighted the challenges facing the hospitality sector, despite the Government’s ‘meagre’ grant support for wet-led businesses.

The research states that just 2,227 licensed venues – 2% of the total – are in tier one areas of England.

More than a third (36,648 – 39%) are in tier three, where venues must close and can only operate a takeaway service.

The remaining 55,502 (59%) are in tier two and are only able to serve alcohol alongside a “substantial meal”.

13.12 - 'Outrageous' rules on drinking in venues

Operators have said it “beggars belief” that cinema-goers will be allowed to order just alcohol while pub goers must eat-in when lockdown laws lift.

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Under England’s new coronavirus rules, pubs in tier two areas can only reopen if they serve table meals with alcoholic drinks from tomorrow (Wednesday 2 December).

However, post-lockdown legislation states the meal requirement does not apply "where alcohol is being provided to a customer at a cinema, theatre, concert hall or sportsground."

It also does not apply when "the alcohol is ordered by, and served to, a customer who has a ticket for an exhibition of a film, a performance or an event of training or competition at the venue, to consume in the area where the audience is seated to watch the exhibition, performance or event."

Pub operators said they have been unfairly targeted, with heavier restrictions than other sectors, despite their investment into health and safety protocols.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), said: “It’s outrageous you can have a pint in a theatre, concert hall, cinema or sports ground without a substantial meal, but not the pub. It is a slap in the face of pubs and brewers.”

13.02 - 'Odd rules' 

11.29 - 'British beer and pubs may become a thing of the past'

A stark warning has been issued by Carlsberg Marston's Brewing Company, with its VP corporate affairs Bruce Ray calling for an urgent beer duty cut to help brewers.

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Ray criticised the £1,000 grants announced for wet pubs and said much more needs to be done to support the pub and beer industry in the UK.

He suggested heavy rules for pubs meant a risk of socialising in unsafe environments, such as private homes, increasing.

He said: “We understand the governments in the UK countries have faced many difficult decisions as they seek to tackle the spread of Coronavirus, but it seems unfair that hospitality is being targeted so specifically, and with no concrete evidence.

"As brewers, we don’t understand the rationale for administrations encouraging congregation in unregulated premises over Christmas, when similar gatherings in regulated, safe environments in pubs and restaurants are massively restricted. Following the vote on tiers in England, we do remain steadfast that the only solution to this for breweries and pubs is to reopen our venues to drinkers. Beer has suffered immensely during this time as draught beer, and especially cask beer, can only be sold in pubs. The offer of a £1,000 payment is nothing in the context of what pubs will lose over this busy trading period.

"Thousands of pints are being literally tipped down the drain and breweries closed due to no demand. In addition, we are urgently asking the Chancellor to give a significant excise duty cut to beer in the budget due in March to prevent the 2,500 UK breweries having to make some very difficult decisions, assuming they get to March. The UK community needs pubs and beer; the supply-chain from farmers to glass manufacturers, to consumers, need pubs and beer; yet British beer and pubs may become a thing of the past."

11.14 - What financial support is available to Britain’s pubs this winter?

The MA​ has summed up what funding is available for pubs across the UK.

Scotland Pubs restrictions

10.44 - How long should diners stay at a pub?

The Morning Advertiser (MA) u​nderstands the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy's (BEIS) stance on how long pubgoers should stay at a venue is that they should leave once finished eating.

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There is no prescribed limit for how long a meal is expected to take, according to BEIS.

However, the department expects diners to act in a sensible way to reduce the spread of coronavirus and leave once they have finished the meal.

Limiting the length of time people stay in a venue to the length of time taken to a eat a meal will reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission, the department said.

BEIS expects venues to take reasonable steps if needed to ensure customers comply with "the spirit of the regulations".

10.21 - Tier 1 and tier 2 pubs reopen 

Despite restrictions, many tier two pubs have shared their joy at being able to reopen today. Here's what pubs reopening today are saying on social media.

Wednesday 2 December, 10.08 - New rules for English pubs as thousands remain closed

The Government won its vote on the new system of coronavirus rules last night, meaning the rules came into force at one minute past midnight today.

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The hospitality is set to lose £8bn of revenue in December and bear £0.3bn of costs of closure and restricted trading, according to UKHospitality.

Just 729 pubs will be able to reopen under the most relaxed tier one rules while 20,813 pubs fall under tier two measures. Some 16,010 pubs will not be permitted to reopen at all under tier three, according to real estate adviser Altus Group.

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