Increase in tier 3 regions forces another 2,000 pubs to shut

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Shuttered trade: the latest tier announcement means almost 23,000 pubs cannot open and can only operate takeaway services
Shuttered trade: the latest tier announcement means almost 23,000 pubs cannot open and can only operate takeaway services

Related tags: Legislation, British beer & pub association, ukhospitality, Campaign for real ale, Emma McClarkin, Kate nicholls, Tom stainer

Health secretary Matt Hancock announced a further eight regions will be added to tier three from this weekend in an address to the House of Commons, while three areas moved down a tier.

Prior to today's (Thursday 17 December) announcement by the Health Secretary, 20,465 pubs were in the highest tier but from one minute past midnight this Saturday (19 December), 22,771 will only be able to operate with takeaway services, according to figures from real estate advisor Altus Group.

BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said the update was not a shift in the right direction for the trade.

“More regions being placed under tier three restrictions means more closed businesses, leaving the future of Britain’s pubs truly hanging by a thread this Christmas," she explained.

“It is clear that it is going to be longer than we thought until our pubs can open properly and be viable businesses again. This means that unless there is a greater package of financial support from the Government to secure our pubs, permanent closures, lost livelihoods and the destruction of valued community locals is sadly inevitable."

Guaranteed pub closures

McClarkin continued: “It doesn’t have to be that way though. The UK Government can and should follow the lead of Wales, which is providing pubs facing similar restrictions and closure with four times more financial support than those in England. Some pubs in Wales will receive even more than that.

“The Prime Minister and Chancellor have no excuses. They must now secure pubs and jobs by giving locals in England the same support as those in Wales. Without such support, a wave of pub closures is guaranteed at a time when they should be leading the economic recovery.”

Operators will see stock go to wate and work reduced as a result of the latest update, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls highlighted.

She said: “Placing more areas into tier three is only going to ruin Christmas for those businesses entering and continued despair and heartbreak for those hard-pressed businesses that had hoped they might move into tier two.

“Businesses will have bought stock which will now go to waste and more people will lose work at a stressful time. Hotels are now facing a deluge of short-notice cancellations because of the tightening of restrictions. What was already looking like a bleak Christmas is now looking like a total write-off.

“This will be a bitter blow for businesses that would have been hoping to make the best of a difficult Christmas period. The increased restrictions, effectively a total shutdown for most, will make it even more difficult for businesses to salvage what little they can from what should be a busy period.

“More financial support most be forthcoming if we are to have any hope that these businesses will survive. They can trade their way out of danger next year only if they are still around to do so.”

Devastating blow

Campaign for Real Ale chief executive Tom Stainer said pubs and breweries across England had been hoping for some good news which would allow them to get some much-needed money through the tills at what would be their busiest time of year. 

“However, the announcement that the vast majority of the country will stay in tier two or three, with large parts of the east and south east joining London going into tier three, is another devastating blow for the beer and pubs industry when they had hoped there was light at the end of the tunnel,” he added.

“This week, thousands of consumers, publicans and brewers have taken to Twitter to share why #PubsMatter to them. Ministers must recognise that local pubs are a force for good, bringing communities together and playing a key role in tackling loneliness and social isolation. Allowing a limited number of people to socialise safely in Covid-secure pubs in all tiers is vital not just for businesses – but also for our communities and to people’s mental wellbeing. 

“With even more pubs forced to shut for Christmas, now more than ever, we need a new, long-term, sector-specific financial support plan to make sure that otherwise-viable pubs, clubs and breweries up and down the country can survive into the new year without having to close down for good.” 

Related topics: Legislation

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