One more kick in the teeth from Government

By Ed Bedington

- Last updated on GMT

What does the Government have against pubs?

Related tags Ed Bedington New year Pubs Legislation Coronavirus

“What else can they do to us?” said one operator to me ahead of last night’s Government announcement.

Well, now we know. That even when we think we’ve taken all the kickings they can give, they’ll find one more way to give us a poke in the ribs. Happy New Year everyone!

I wrote a piece yesterday, lamenting the fact that we’ve entered a New Year with 99.9% of the industry shut down and yes, many were saying, it can’t get much worse.

However, the government decision to announce that pubs can no longer sell takeaway alcohol, but only deliver it, further cemented the feeling of victimisation across the sector.

Yes, I get the idea that people buying single pints and glasses of wine and sitting out in the streets is a factor the government is looking to mitigate. But for crying out loud, it’s minus 1 out there!

People who are determined to meet up with their friends at minus one in the street are going to do that regardless.

Banning pubs from selling a growler of beer, or a bottle of wine, particularly if it’s alongside a takeaway meal, is just over the top.

I’d like to think it’s the classic case of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but with the government’s track record of tightening the screws on the pub sector, while allowing the supermarkets to blithely keep trading, would suggest there’s more of an agenda there.

Pubs now have to adapt once more, and add further costs to their operating models either by paying extortionate fees to delivery companies, or by bringing more staff out of furlough to deliver. It’s no surprise that many pubs that have been limping along trading where they can, will now simply shut up shop.

Yes, there’s new grant monies available, but again, a one off grant will barely touch the sides of businesses that have been hemorrhaging cash since March last year.

So once again, our industry finds itself getting yet another poke in the eye from a government that seems hellbent on adding further hurdles each and every time Boris steps up to the podium.

Nevertheless, we are a resilient sector. We will find ways to adapt and survive, as the Three Legged Mare put it on Twitter: “Put twenty hurdles out. These idiots won’t stop us coming back stronger eventually. My lord it will be hard work but we will be back even with these people in charge.”

We also need to continue to work together to call for support and we need to continue to remind the communities around us that we’re still here, we’re still important, and that we have a role to play, despite Government attitudes.

This Sunday, I helped out with one of my locals, which had set up its kitchen to make free Sunday lunches for elderly and vulnerable members of the community. Helping to deliver those meals, and seeing the reactions of the grateful recipients was a wonderful thing to be part of, and it helps to reinforce the fact that pubs are more than our government seems to think.

I’d urge all of you to do what you can to keep driving that message home in whatever way you can.

The first lockdown saw some amazing acts of kindness from pubs across the UK, let’s keep that light shining and hopefully it will help guide us through to a better 2021 than the one we’ve started.

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