lockdown live

• LIVE: Social distancing rules could remain until autumn, reports say

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: coronavirus, lockdown, Legislation, Health and safety

As pubs face a winter of closures, The Morning Advertiser will bring you the latest updates and reaction on this live blog.

Monday 15 February, 09.58 - Join our new live blog to stay updated

For the latest news and reactions, please follow the latest live blog.

15.23 - 'Things cannot continue as they are'

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has responded to GDP figures published for 2020, which show the UK economy contracted by 9.9%.

Who-is-responsible-for-social-distancing-at-pubs_wrbm_large

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), food and beverage services dropped by 48.0%. Alcohol drink manufacturing, which includes breweries, fell by 33.9%.

A British Beer & Pub Association spokesperson said: “Things cannot continue as they are. Local pubs and breweries have been burning through cash and building up debt for months, communities across the UK are fast running out of hope that their local is going to survive. Thousands of pubs and hundreds of thousands of jobs continue to hang in the balance whilst we wait for clarity on exactly when and how pubs reopen.

“If measures aren’t announced on 22nd February in the Government’s recovery roadmap providing the clarity our sector needs on when it can reopen, as well as support it needs to survive until then, we fear things could get even worse. Even when pubs do reopen, they will need a stimulus package of support to kick-start them again.

13.42 - Lateral flow testing key to recovery

UKHospitality (UKH) chief executive Kate Nicholls told viewers of The Morning Advertiser ​MA500 online conference that rapid coronavirus testing would be crucial in the months to come.

Quick testing should be introduced for workers in the sector, particularly for younger staff members who will not be able to receive their vaccine until later on in the year.

Nicholls said: “We do want to see the introduction of rapid testing in our segments so we can have rapid lateral flow testing as part of the community but also in our workforce so we can keep people in work.

“For those areas of the workforce that are younger, who are going to be later down the queue for vaccination, lateral flow testing can be a key enabler to open those harder to open segments of our industry.

“[Parts] like nightclubs, events, conferences. We need to make sure the Government’s exit strategy covers all those elements of hospitality.

11.05 - 'Impact of hospitality closures shown once again'

Friday 12 February, 10.11 - 'Social distancing will need to be in place for a long time to come'

Coronavirus measures such as social distancing and masks could remain until the end of the year, according to The Times​ newspaper.

At-what-point-will-pubs-reopen-in-2021_wrbm_large

These rules will enable society to reopen, Government officials believe, the newspaper states.

The report suggests the Government's lockdown exit strategy will be based on the assumption people will have to wear face masks and stay a metre apart for many months to come.

A roadmap out of lockdown is expected on 22 February, following an examination of the latest coronavirus infection data.

“The thinking is that social distancing will need to be in place for a long time to come,” a Whitehall source  told the newspaper. “It has repercussions for the scale of any reopening. Restaurants, pubs and offices will all need to be Covid-secure.”

Pubs and other hospitality venues have invested heavily into measures such as social distancing markers, hand sanitiser and personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff.

However, operators have previously told The Morning Advertiser (MA)​ they feel they have not been given a chance to utilise their investments because of frequent closures since the lifting of the first lockdown. 

16.14 - Pubs and bars to catch post-lockdown singles on the rebound, says dating expert

Dating expert Karen Mooney explains that despite an uptick in Zoom dates and socially distanced walks, romantic on-trade outings will ‘definitely bounce back’ among those looking to shoot their post-Covid shot.

hearts-937664_1280

There are approximately 7.7m single person households in the UK with many forced to lockdown alone over the past year, according to Mooney, founder and managing director of Sara Eden Introduction agency.

Unsurprisingly, trying not to catch Covid-19 has massively dented their chances of catching feels, with singletons weighing up their options behind closed doors and now more eager than ever to meet someone special, she says – citing a 200% increase in enquiries to dating agencies as proof.

Reporting by Stuart Stone

15.29 - 'Margin-boosting opportunities'

Take a listen to the latest episode of the Lock In​ podcast.

14.24 - Operators disappointed with insurance situation  

Many operators have been left disappointed after initially believing they were eligible for an insurance payout following a landmark court ruling.

bar-413709_1280 (1)

The Supreme Court ruling on business interruption insurance saw the wording of several policies contested, with the court ruling that insurers had to pay out to pubs affected by the coronavirus lockdown last year.

However, the case brought forward by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), only looked at policies with ambiguous wording​, meaning the majority of policyholders have still been denied cover.

Hospitality insurance specialist Steven Swift of Sector Associates said coverage of the ruling led many to believe they could receive a payment for lost income as a result of the Government ordered shutdown of their business.

He said: “[The ruling] was supposed to have provided a lot of clarity, I think it has provided a little more confusion if I’m being honest. 

“I think in the mainstream media how it was reported led people to believe they were automatically getting paid which was plainly incorrect."

11.49 - Sector presses Chancellor to extend support measures

Thursday 11 February, 09.53 - 'You couldn't make it up'

The Prime Minister urged caution at a Downing Street press conference last night, stressing: “I am afraid it is just too early for people to be certain about what we’ll be able to do this summer.”

His words came after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said it was "too soon" to book a summer holiday, be it one abroad or in the UK.

However, trade figures were infuriated after contradicting comments from Health Secretary Matt Hancock. 

The minister told Tory MPs that he had booked a trip to Cornwall over a Zoom call.

Founder and executive chairman of Oakman Inns, Peter Borg-Neal shared his reaction on Twitter.

What's more, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said the Government should be highlighting the option of domestic holidays.

Chief executive of St Austell Brewery, Kevin Georgel, said he was looking forward to "welcoming people back to our beautiful region".

  • Are you a pub with rooms? How do you feel about ministers' comments? Get in touch on rzvyl.unjxvaf@jeoz.pbz​ 

16.05 - Heineken tight-lipped on job cut details

Brewing giant Heineken has confirmed to The Morning Advertiser​ that under 100 jobs will be lost at its UK operation. 

It is cutting 8,000 jobs in total, a large proportion from the head office in Amsterdam. 

Staff were informed of a restructure in October 2020, after which a consultation occurred and has now completed.

The company was not keen to comment on what jobs were being cut in the UK or how its pub arm Star Pubs and Bars would be affected.

A spokesperson added: “The closure of pubs in March and subsequent restrictions, including over the Christmas period, have had an impact on sales volumes of beer and cider for the full year. While we experienced an increase in volumes in the off-trade, where our premium beer brands performed well, it in no way made up for the loss of volumes in the on-trade.

“To date, we’ve invested over £44 million in rent reductions for our Star Pubs & Bars licensees and implemented a number of support measures to help our pubs open safely and viably when they’ve been allowed to do so. Alongside our industry colleagues, we continue to urgently ask the Government for continued financial support including an extension of business rates relief and a cut in VAT to support a sustainable recovery for the pub sector.

“The NHS vaccination programme is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we look forward to welcoming back consumers to pubs across the country as soon as it is safe to do so.”

14.56 - 'Give the industry hope' 

Bath Pub Company has called on the Chancellor to "give the industry hope" by extending the VAT cut and business rates holiday.

The company made a £50k loss in November, twice as bad as the worst month in the first lockdown, managing director Joe Cussens added.

He said the company had "shouldered [the] full burden of overheads for a month with no income."

14.30 - Downing Street press conference later

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will lead a Downing Street press conference on coronavirus later today.

Business-rates-remain-burden-despite-Government-action_wrbm_large

11.37 - Loungers boss warns of 'catastrophic devastation' ahead for sector

The Government does not have "any idea" of the hardship facing hospitality without further support, according to Loungers co-founder Alex Reilly on Twitter​.

"The fate of hospitality is in your hands & only you have the power to prevent the decimation of a sector that directly employs 3.2m in addition to hundreds of thousands of related jobs in our supply chain. 

"I sincerely hope you understand what’s at stake here," he said.

10.56 - BBPA calls for reopening date amid uncertainty 

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has highlighted five key points it wants the Government to consider when pubs are allowed to reopen.

exit-498428_1280

Its Roadmap to Recovery​ highlighted after the most vulnerable groups have been vaccinated, pubs must reopen when non-essential retail and other parts of the hospitality sector reopen – something that has also been stated by trade voices such as Admiral Taverns boss Chris Jowsey​ and Greater Manchester night-time adviser and operator Sacha Lord.

The measures outlined by the BBPA are:

  • Business rates holiday extension for the 2021/22 financial year
  • The reduced 5% VAT rate on soft drinks, food and accommodation to be extended for a further 12 months and expanded to cover alcoholic drinks with a review in the future in a bid to be a permanent reduction
  • Grants and employment support (namely the furlough scheme and Job Retention Bonus) to be continued if trading restrictions are still in place after April
  • A brewer compensation fund for stock write-offs due to the pandemic and resulting lockdowns
  • Positive and proactive communication to boost consumers returning to hospitality venues alongside consideration of further demand stimulus if confidence in the sector remains fragile

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

Wednesday 9 February, 09.31 - Minister discourages holiday bookings 

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said it was "too soon" for wannabe holiday makers to make bookings for the warmer months ahead.

luggage-3297015_1280

"First of all, I should say, people shouldn't be booking holidays right now – not domestically or internationally," he said on BBC Radio 4's Today​ programme.

He added: "The Prime Minister will say more about the route to unlocking this country, starting when he speaks about it on 22 February.

"But we don't know yet whether that will include information on things like holidays, simply because we don't know where we'll be up to in terms of the decline in cases, deaths, vaccination.

"And not just the vaccination programme here, but the vaccination programme internationally, because people will be going outside of our borders. So it's too soon."

Accommodation website Stay in a Pub said its website traffic indicated people were “actively searching” for pubs with rooms. 

“They are doing their research and making plans but uncertainty can hold them back from finalising their booking,” a spokesperson for the website said.

“We are encouraging our pubs to promote total flexibility on bookings and free cancellation policies. The promise of flexibility is an opportunity to build consumer confidence now to secure future loyalty."

16.18 - Lack of lockdown roadmap 'concerning'

Operator Adam Nelson, who runs the Orange Tree in Chelmsford, Essex, has written about his experience of the third lockdown. 

How-has-Covid-lockdown-three-compared-to-one-and-two_wrbm_large

He writes: "The lack of certainty surrounding the plans to come out of lockdown is concerning. 

"I fully understand the need for the restrictions and I certainly do not want to come out of lockdown too early but knowing how we can re-open is as important as when we can re-open."

13.28 - More time to pay back lockdown loans

12.30 - Legal action over wet pub shut downs

Night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord is to press ahead with a legal case over restrictions on wet pubs.

The-pub-is-primarily-about-alcoholic-beverages.-I-d-like-it-to-stay-that-way_wrbm_large

There will be a two-day hearing over the legality of forcing pubs only serving alcohol to close.

Lord said: "Following our legal challenge into the fairness of the lockdown measures on the hospitality sector, we were informed yesterday by our legal team that we do have a case at the High Court.

"We will have a two-day hearing to discuss the legality around forcing wet-led pubs to remain shut, while those which serve food can reopen. We believe this is a measure which actively discriminates against the poorest and most disadvantaged sectors in our society.

"We look forward to receiving the court date in due course."

Pubs were only permitted to serve just alcoholic drinks in tier one areas under the Government's pre-lockdown regional coronavirus approach. This meant many wet led pubs could not reopen after the country's second national lockdown last winter.

Pubs in tier two had to serve a 'substantial meal' with drinks while all hospitality venues in tier three were shut.

10.22 - Government to meet hospitality minister campaigners

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that the Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets, Paul Scully, will meet campaigners calling for a dedicated minister for hospitality.

Will-Boris-Johnson-appoint-a-hospitality-minister_wrbm_large

Chair of the Petitions Committee and Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne North, Catherine McKinnell has pressed the issue and welcomed the decision.

The MP said: “Whilst I welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to agree to our call for the Government to meet with petitioners and hear their concerns about the need for greater support for the hospitality sector, I hope that the Prime Minister himself will consider their request that he creates a minister for hospitality to oversee Government delivery for this crucial diverse sector."

“Although the Government has provided a range of support to the hospitality industry throughout this pandemic, there are still great challenges ahead and a coordinated approach on this issue is vital at this critical time.

 

09.39 - Safety of pub gardens highlighted by professor of epidemiology

“Actually sometimes a beer garden is more controlled than people’s homes and gardens,” according to one professor, when asked about the safety merits of hospitality venues compared to private settings.

When-will-pubs-in-Wales-reopen_wrbm_large

The comments were made by Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College London, on Times Radio​.

He added: “Generally most establishments are well behaved and I think they clean the tables and people keep their distance and I see no reason why we couldn’t move towards that in places that are well set up for it."

He told the radio programme he thought coronavirus regulations on large events and gatherings would continue for "the next few years". 

Spector said greater freedoms on meeting people outside should be “definitely encouraged” as one of the first post-lockdown measures.

15.42 - Hospitality ‘potential saviour’ of high streets facing ‘domino effect of closures’

Greater Manchester’s night-time economy adviser, Sacha Lord, has highlighted the potential for continued high street decline if space vacated by retail stalwarts is allowed to remain empty. 

What-time-do-Newcastle-pubs-close_wrbm_large (1)

Lord’s warning that the ongoing collapse of the retail sector will create a “domino effect of closures” and increased social and economic hardship unless spaces are repurposed follows news that more than 214 Arcadia Group shops will close after its brands were acquired by online fashion retailers.

As reported by The Financial Times​, Asos snapped up Topshop from administrators for £265m while Boohoo has bought the Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton brands for £25.2m – a deal which doesn’t include their combined 214 shops, nor the 2,450 workers employed in them. 

Boohoo also purchased high street mainstay Debenhams’ brand and website for £55m in January, but, again, opted not to take on any of the firm's remaining 118 stores or its workforce. 

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

12.44 - Pubgoers enjoy a return to normality on the Isle of Man

Images from ITV​ show pubgoers enjoying pints and catch ups with friends once more on the Isle of Man.

Restrictions were lifted last week following a 25-day circuit breaker lockdown to tackle an increase in coronavirus cases.

11.42 - Two fifths of operators back another EOTHO scheme, survey says

Some 61% of operators would support another scheme similar to Eat Out to Help Out (EOTHO) when reopen, an industry poll has found.

Do-pubs-want-another-Eat-Out-to-Help-Out-scheme-when-reopen-in-2021_wrbm_large

The scheme ran from 3 to 31 August 2020 and meant diners could receive 50% off their meals and non-alcoholic drinks when eating in at registered hospitality venues from Monday to Wednesday, up to £10 per person.

More than 52,000 businesses registered for the scheme with £849m being claimed by 30 September 2020.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

10.44 - Opening pubs with booze ban ‘not reopening at all’

The trade has reacted to rumours that the Government is considering scrapping 10pm curfew and substantial meal measures as well as barring reopened pubs from selling alcohol.

10.09 - 'Reopening in name only inflicts irreparable damage'

UKHospitality's CEO Kate Nicholls has described a reported "booze ban" in The Telegraph​ as "unsustainable" for businesses.

Monday 08 February, 09.37 - Reopening rumours add to operators' worries 

Welcome back to TheMA's​ live blog. Over the weekend, various reports claimed to shed light onto the Government's plans for reopening hospitality.

How-much-beer-has-been-wasted-because-of-coronavirus_wrbm_large

The Telegraph​ reported that the Government had been considering a "booze ban" when pubs are first allowed to reopen. The newspaper suggested this policy had been considered for April, following schools reopening and further outdoor socialising allowed from March.

The Government is considering a roadmap for easing lockdown measures, to be published on 22 February after an analysis of the latest coronavirus data.

However, a senior Government source dismissed the idea and told the PA​ news agency: “We are not going to open pubs that can’t sell booze. What would be the point of that?”

There were contrasting reports last week that the Government may scrap the 'substantial meal' requirement for pubs to sell alcohol.

What's more, The Sun​ reported that the Government was considering plans to permit pubs to serve takeaway alcohol once more in April ahead of a full reopening in May.

It suggested the 10pm curfew may be scrapped.

The Government is to review the lockdown on 15 February, when it is hoped the most vulnerable groups will have all been vaccinated. 

16.21 - BBPA will 'continue to make case' for scrapping drinking rules

13.52 - 87m pints of beer wasted since start of pandemic 

Up to 87m pints of beer may have been wasted, costing the industry £331m, since the coronavirus crisis began. 

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) estimated, based on CGA’s average price of a pint at £3.81, that more than £330m lost in revenue by pubs was on beer destroyed as a result of the three lockdowns and tier restrictions.

The trade body stated this cash would normally pay for hundreds of thousands of jobs in the sector alongside the maintenance of pubs.

It has called on the Government to extend support for the trade if pubs are to remain shut, which included a continuation of the VAT cut and business rates holiday, alongside a drop in beer duty when pubs reopen.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

11.02 - 'I can't give you guarantees'

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly refused to give any exact dates of when restrictions could be eased, when interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Today programme today.

village-3735180_1280

The Government would consider "the needs of the economy, people's mental health, the education of our children," when considering how to lift lockdown, Cleverly said.

He said: "The decisions will be based on the assessment of what is safe, as well as effective.

"I can't give you absolute guarantees of exactly when restrictions will be eased, in which order, in which sectors, I'm just not able to do that.

"But those decisions will be guided by the science. They will take into consideration the needs of the economy, people's mental health, the education of our children, all these things are incredibly important.

"And I totally get the frustration that we all feel with these restrictions, but they are there for a reason."

Friday 5 February, 09.49 - 'Substantial meal requirement will not return'

Pubs will not be expected to serve a substantial meal with alcohol when lockdown measures are eased in the spring, according to reports in The Times​.

water-1245985_1280

The Prime Minister has said he will reveal details of how England's third lockdown will be gradually lifted in a roadmap on 22 February. This will follow a review of coronavirus data on the week commencing 15 February. 

The Times​ has reported that outdoor socialising will come before mixing indoors is allowed, with hospitality venues possibly allowed to open for outdoor service before indoor.

After the first lockdown in England, hospitality venues were allowed to open both for indoor and outdoor service on the same day.

The Government intends to allow school children to return to classrooms from 8 March, with a slow reopening of the economy in the weeks following.

Outdoor socialising and sports will be among the first freedoms allowed, according to The Times​.

Under the regional tier system, pubs in areas under tier two restrictions could only operate if they served a 'substantial meal' with alcohol. This left many wet-pubs unable to open after the second national lockdown. 

But Boris Johnson has said he is considering a national approach when restrictions are eased.

The Times'​ report indicates that non-essential shops could reopen before hospitality, a sentiment pubco bosses have lashed back at in recent weeks.

14.44 - ‘Interim position’ or new forum needed? Lords weigh in on hospitality minister debate

Almost a month after a selection of cross-party MPs backed a motion to appoint a dedicated minister for the hospitality sector, peers grilled the Government on its plans to further support the industry.

tim-mossholder-y0_je0DHS78-unsplash

Following a 90-minute debate on 11 January​, the issue of appointing a dedicated minister for the hospitality sector reached the House of Lords on 3 February.

The issue initially made Parliament’s agenda after more than 200,000 sector supporters – including celebrity chef and pub operator Tom Kerridge, James Martin and Angela Hartnett – signed a petition.

The #SeatAtTheTable campaign highlighted the UK hospitality industry is responsible for about 3m jobs and generates £130bn in activity, resulting in £38bn in taxation but, unlike the arts or sports, does not have a dedicated minister.

Reporting by Stuart Stone

15.03 - 'Extend VAT cut in next Budget'

11.44 - Treasury signals rates relief

Councils have been urged not to issue business rates bills ahead of the new financial year on 1 April, until after the Budget on 3 March.

This suggests the Chancellor could be announcing further support for commercial properties, according to real estate advisor Altus Group.

Usually, as billing authorities, councils would start issuing and sending out yearly business rates bills this month (February) ahead of the new financial year on 1 April.

According to Altus Group, Treasury financial secretary Jesse Norman said councils should “consider issuing business rates bills after the Chancellor has set out his plan at the Budget”, adding “it is in the public interest to avoid any potential confusion for businesses and to avoid the cost of having to re-bill businesses in light of any measures that may be included in the Budget”.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

11.15 - 'Reopening or support and protection'

09.42 - Vaccines minister signals ‘gradual reopening’ of economy’

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has echoed Johnson’s statements on this morning’s round of press interviews.

My Post (81)

He told Sky News restrictions could begin to be eased in early March, starting with schools on 8 March and then followed by an economic reopening.

He said: "Mid-February, if you add another three weeks to that when the vaccine protection really does begin to kick in, you're at the first week of March," he said on Thursday.

"So that's when we will begin to first of all open schools and then begin a gradual reopening of the economy, if we continue to see good data."

Pub sector bosses have previously expressed their concerns non-essential retail may be able to reopen weeks before hospitality and said this approach lacks common sense.

09.14 - Prime Minister could outline lockdown exit strategy on 22 February 

The Prime Minister once more indicated a roadmap out of lockdown could be announced on 22 February, after the lockdown's official review date.

Speaking at a Number 10 press conference last night, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “In the days leading up to our review point in the week of the 15 February we will be accumulating even more data, helped by NHS Test and Trace, so that we can begin to chart a way ahead.

“Starting, if the data allow, with the reopening of schools on March 8th. And I will be setting out as much as we can about that roadmap forward on 22 February.”

13.27 - Hospitality needs £35bn to save 500,000 jobs, business group claims

A financial package of support worth £35bn is needed to safeguard 500,000 hospitality jobs, one business group has said.

The Independent Business Network called on the Chancellor to halve alcohol taxes, which it estimated would cost £1.8bn, include alcohol in the VAT cut (£750m) and extend the VAT reduction for the rest of this year (£6.3bn).

It also urged the Government to cut VAT rate payable by physical retailers to 14%, which would cost about £7.6bn and freeze town centre parking fees, at a cost of £872m.

In addition, the group wants the Chancellor to provide hospitality businesses with a Covid-investment rebate – which it estimated would be £690m – a continuation of the business rates holiday (£15bn), make hospitality investments 100% of the First Year Allowance (£1.15bn) in addition to reintroducing the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme with a ‘pro-hospitality’ focus (£1.08bn).

11.35 - 'Hospitality can save high streets'

10.25 - Beer disposal platform returns

The British Beer & Pub Association has announced the re-opening of cross-industry platform returnyourbeer.co.uk​.

beer-1379581_1280 (1)

Brewers can manage the safe destruction of their brands in pubs and reclaim excise duty for beer that has become unsalable during the lockdown.

Operators will need to register again for a new round of claims, separate to any made in the first national lockdown.

The platform is used to verify the extent of stock and to provide the necessary evidence of destruction.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “We’re encouraging businesses with spoilt beer they need to destroy to visit www.ReturnYourBeer.co.uk​ and pre-register. The platform provides guidance and instructions necessary to destroy beer, as well as crucially recording that destruction to enable duty to be claimed back on it.

“This cross-industry platform is free to use and should help businesses of all shapes and sizes who serve draught beer as they re-stock and re-fresh ahead of re-opening. Crucial at this hugely challenging time.”

Wednesday 3 February, 09.44 - Sector welcomes vaccine findings

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine may have a "substantial" impact on coronavirus transmission, according to a study.

coronavirus-4932607_1280

The University of Oxford found a 67% drop in positive coronavirus test results among those given the jab.

A single standard dose was 76% effective from day 22 to day 90 after the vaccination, according to the report in The Lancet.​ 

This supports the Government's approach to leave 12 weeks between the first and second dose in order to give more people an initial jab.

The study - although not yet been formally published - has been welcomed by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and the hospitality sector. 

Hancock said the analysis proved "vaccines are the way out of this pandemic".

UKHospitality's Kate Nicholls said the news should "allow more pragmatic discussion" about the reopening of the sector.

However, the good news comes amid growing concern that the South African variant may be spreading in England. Mass community testing has been launched in several postcodes after Public Health England said it had identified more than 100 coronavirus cases of the more transmissible strain.

Health Secretary Hancock was asked if existing vaccines would work against the South African strain on LBC this morning.

He said: "We don’t yet know the full answer to that question, that’s one of the reasons that we’re taking this precautionary approach, but we do think that it will have some effect, but unlikely to be as much of an effect as on the existing strains."

16.17 - Dubai closes pubs and bars after virus spike

Pubs and bars in Dubai have been forced to shut after an increase in coronavirus cases.

dubai-1767540_1280

Restaurants must close by 1am and crowd limits have been imposed on other leisure venues such as cinemas.

It comes as British social media influencers have been slammed for travelling to the emirate under essential work travel rules.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) was added to the Government’s list of countries where travel is banned last week.

It has reported 17 consecutive days of record coronavirus figures with the Government's media office blaming "a marked increase in the number of violations of precautionary measures" for the rise.

16.04 - "Mutations of concern" found in Bristol and Liverpool

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs 11 cases of "mutations concerns" had been discovered in Bristol and 32 in Liverpool.

liverpool-1500885_1280

It comes after several postcodes have been subjected to mass community testing after the discovery of more than 100 cases of a more transmissible South African variant of coronavirus.

Volunteers are carrying out door to door testing and mobile testing units have been set up in postcodes including in Kent, Surrey and London.

Hancock said: "In all these areas, it is imperative that you must stay at home and only leave home where it is absolutely essential."

"Anyone who must leave your home to go to a workplace – for instance, because they cannot work from home – should get tested.

"All local employers should support and encourage their workers to get tested."

The minister added: "The message is more important than ever: to stay at home, maintain social distancing and get tested."

14.53 - How has January 2021 impacted you and your pub? 

14.37 - Scottish lockdown extended

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has stated Scotland's lockdown will continue until the end of February at the earliest.

She will give another update in a fortnight but signalled easing of lockdown measures could begin in early March.

Everyone earning below the real living wage will be eligible for a £500 self-isolation payment, should they come into contact with the virus, Sturgeon announced.

12.02 - 'Nothing better than a pub meet up with pals'

A new survey has highlighted the devastating impact of pub closures on communities and isolated individuals.

The Open Arms report was commissioned by The Campaign to End Loneliness and carried out in collaboration with HEINEKEN.

Some 86% of survey respondents said when a pub closes the local community suffers.

Just over two third (64%) said their local was one of the main places that people living in their area can socialise.

11.49 - National rather than regional tiers being considered by PM

Pubs could reopen under national restrictions instead of regional measures, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has proposed.

MPs-letter-to-business-secretary_wrbm_large

He put this down to the fact the virus was behaving differently and a country-wide approach could be a better way of coping.

On imposing nationwide restrictions, Johnson said: “It may be a national approach, going down the tiers in a national way might be better this time round, given the disease is behaving much more nationally.

“If you look at the way the new variant has taken off across the country, it’s a pretty national phenomenon.

“The charts I see, we are all sort of moving pretty much in the same sort of way, I mean there are a few discrepancies, a few differences, so it may be we will go for a national approach but there may be an advantage still in some regional differentiation as well.”

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

10.32 - 'National restrictions better than regional tiers'

09.37 - Communities urged to get tested after South African variant found

A mass community testing initiative is underway in several English postcodes after the discovery of cases of the South African strain of coronavirus.

call-5077271_1280

Some 80,000 people in specific areas are being instructed to get tested for the virus.

Public Health England has found 105 cases of the highly infectious variant, with 11 cases that have no link to travelling overseas.

A Government official has told the politics newsletter Playbook​ that this strain and possible future mutations of the virus pose the main threats to summer liberties.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said this week he had a “high degree of confidence” in the possibility of a summer with little restrictions, given the vaccination roll out progress. 

“In six months we'll be in the middle, I hope, of a happy and free Great British summer – I have a high degree of confidence that by then the vast majority of adults will have been vaccinated,” the minister told the BBC’s Politics East programme.

He said: “I think we are going to have a great summer, but we will have a tough few months between now and then.”

Postcodes to receive door-to-door testing include: W7, N17 and CR4 in London; WS2 in Walsall; ME15 in Maidstone, Kent; PR9 in Southport; EN10 in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire; and GU21 in Woking, Surrey. 

It is thought a booster vaccination could be introduced in the future to tackle the virus as it mutates. Public Health England's Dr Susan Hopkins said the existing vaccines may offer less protection against the South African variant but will still offer a level of immunity. 

14.51 - Parliamentary pub sales top £280,000 in 2020 with £20k spent since lockdown one

Wet sales across the Parliamentary Estate’s pub and bars since the UK's first national lockdown totalled more than £20,000 – with many drink prices found beneath both on-trade averages and those of nearby sites.

Data supplied in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by The Morning Advertiser (MA) ​showed drink sales at the House of Lords and House of Commons’ bars totalled £281,107.31 in 2020 – of which £22,062 came since July when venues were initially allowed to reopen following the UK’s first national lockdown.   

Of that total, £133,672.87 was spent in the House of Commons’ Smoking Room, Strangers Bar and Pugin Room and £147,434.45 across the House of Lords’ bars during 2020.

12.57 - What happens if you open your pub in lockdown?

With a spate of pubs hitting the headlines for breaching coronavirus restrictions, The Morning Advertiser takes a look at the potential impact on licensees if they break lockdown rules.

Who-is-responsible-for-social-distancing-at-pubs_wrbm_large

Under the measures in place during the ongoing third national lockdown, pubs can be fined up to £10,000 for breaching regulations.

According to the Government, “the owner, proprietor or manager carrying out a business (or a person responsible for other premises) who fails to fulfil the obligations placed on them in law, without reasonable excuse, commits an offence”.

11.33 - Open pubs before people 'start mixing'

11.03 - Treasury urged to extend support for hospitality

Pubs have been left “battling for survival”, UKHospitality’s Kate Nicholls has said after imploring the Treasury to extend critical support for hospitality businesses.

piccadilly-circus-2781570_1280

The trade body gave evidence to the Treasury Select Committee Inquiry into the Economic Impact of Coronavirus, highlighting the dire situation faced by many operators.

Four in 10 hospitality businesses believe they will fail by the middle of the year, according to UKHospitality (UKH). 

What’s more, just one in five has enough cash flow to survive beyond this month with existing levels of support.

The Treasury has been pressed to extend the VAT cut to 5% for an additional 12 months and introduce a further business rates holiday for 2021/22.

09.59 - 'You can be full but not profitable'

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has highlighted the struggles anticipated by accommodation operators.

Monday 1 February, 09.42 - Pubs in Isle of Man reopen with no restrictions

Restrictions have been eased on the Isle of Man, with pubs able to reopen with no social distancing restrictions.

cregneash-3287191_1280

Islanders entered a 25 day circuit-breaker lockdown on 7 January after the discovery of a number of cases on the island. This saw pubs close and people only permitted to leave the house for essential reasons.

Some hospital services had been suspended to protect residents.

Health and social care minister David Ashford said: "I’m delighted we are able to turn suspended and reduced services back on without delay. The restrictions were necessary for everyone’s safety and I thank patients, staff, service users, their families and carers for their patience and understanding over recent weeks."

The Government closed its borders on 23rd March 2020 to non-residents and from July demanded that residents returning to the island to quarantine for 14-days.

After an individual tested positive following a fortnight of self-isolation, the policy has changed to three weeks in mandatory quarantine or two weeks with three swab tests on day one, seven and 13.

Lockdown measures ceased at one minute past midnight this morning.

13.50 - 'Summer will feel a long way away'

Steven Alton, CEO of the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has said pubs with rooms need support to make it through to a potential 'staycation boom'.

He said: “Our members are in hibernation mode at the moment, trying to keep their businesses alive with grants and loans, so summer will feel a long way away at the moment. We know that the pub industry can be a huge part of the revival of our economy once they are allowed to open and trade freely once more. We saw this clearly last summer, as hospitality in the UK welcomed back over 60 million visitors a week.

“With limited travel for the foreseeable future, we envisage tourism in the UK being as important as it was last year, if not even more so. Once consumer confidence returns with the continued rollout of the vaccine and Government restrictions are lifted, our pubs will be at the heart of the nation once more.

“Until then, they need further financial support to ensure they can survive to reopen their doors again, along with a clear roadmap for how that will be achieved, and when.”

13.37 - 'No correlation' between Eat Out to Help Out and infection numbers, says Treasury

The Treasury has defended its Eat Out to Help Out scheme to critics who blamed the discount meals initiative for driving up infection rates.

How-are-pubs-dealing-with-concerns-about-reopening_wrbm_large

It has issued geographic data on participation in the scheme and said high take-up “does not correlate with incidence of Covid regionally."

UKHospitality (UKH) chief executive Kate Nicholls said the finding comes as “no surprise” and the lack of correlation between infection and dining out was a “testament to the safety of hospitality venues.”

The Sun​ analysed the data issued by the Treasury​ and said areas with strong participation in the scheme also still had low virus levels between August and October.

UKH’s Kate Nicholls said: “The absence of a link between infections and a high take up of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme come as no surprise – there’s been scant cogent evidence of a link throughout the pandemic.”

11.44 - Business rates relief extended in Scotland

Business rates relief will be extended for Scottish pubs for an initial three months as Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been urged to enable a further extension for all pubs.

scotland-859332_1280

Scotland's Finance Secretary Kate Forbes pledged to continue relief on non-domestic rates for an initial extra three months funded by money reimbursed by supermarkets. 

Extending the measure further would require additional funding from the UK Government, she said.

The spending plan comes weeks before Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is to unveil the UK Budget, where money for Scotland will be outlined.

Trade bodies have welcomed the news and urged the UK Government to extend the policy.

Friday 29 January, 09.42 - PM 'considering scrapping regional tiers'

The Daily Mail​ has reported the Prime Minister is considering getting rid of a regionally-focused system of coronavirus rules when lockdown in England is eased.

The newspaper does not go into much detail or reference a source but suggests ministers believe a national approach would be more sustainable and be less politically divisive. 

It states: "A return to a national system of restrictions would result in a slower release from lockdown, as areas with low numbers of cases would be forced to wait for others to 'catch up' before being allowed to open up."

A lockdown exit strategy is expected to be published in the week beginning 22 February.

The Mail​ reports Government sources as denying "a three-stage plan had been agreed, with schools opening in March, shops in April and the hospitality sector in May."

However, one source suggested 'early summer' could be when pubs reopen.

15.08 - Scotland 'has shown Whitehall the way' on rates relief

The UK Government should take note of Scotland's response to calls from operators to extend business rates relief, according to Jerry Schurder, head of business rates at Gerald Eve.

Schurder said: "The First Minister has shown Whitehall the way in the context of the much called for continuation of the rates holiday in England, committing to remove all rates liability for the most affected sectors in Scotland for at least 3 months, even without guarantee of financial support from Westminster.

“It is now absolutely vital that the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces a continuation of the holiday – for all of the UK – as soon as possible so that businesses have certainty over their position and know they don’t face the return of bills in April, when the majority of them are likely to still be forcibly closed."

“If the UK Government wants there to be a hospitality and retail sector for people to return to when lockdown ends, a 12-month extension to the rates holiday is the only solution. This is not the time for the Chancellor to leave firms hanging so that he has some positive news up his sleeve for his March Budget.

"Ratepayers need certainty, they need the holiday to be extended, and they need to know now.”

14.56 - Business rates relief extended in Scotland

Scotland's Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has outlined the Government's spending plans for 2021/22.

Forbes said businesses' biggest ask had been for the business rates holiday to be extended and pledged to do this for an initial extra three months. This will be funded by money reimbursed from supermarkets but would require "additional funding from the UK government" to extend further.

She said she would continue to urge the UK Government to announce an extension to their equivalent relief.

The statement comes weeks before Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak unveils the UK Budget in early March, where money for Scotland will be outlined.

Forbes announced a doubling of the discretionary fund of £60m for local authorities and committed to pay February grants at level four.

13.11 - 'We must not rush to reopen'

11.43 - Health experts' claims ‘hospitality not Covid hotbed’ comes as ‘no surprise’

Claims from local public health directors that hospitality venues are not a big risk of coronavirus transmission should come as no surprise, one trade body has said.

beer-3687802_1280 (1)

At a virtual House of Commons Science and Technology Committee yesterday (Wednesday 27 January), public health director in Sheffield Greg Fell and his counterpart in Staffordshire Richard Harling said transmission mostly happened in people’s homes.

Fell told MPs: “Most of the transmission events are households, within households, or household to household transmission.

“Hospitality doesn’t crop up as a terribly big risk on our radar. Certainly when we look at the common exposure dataset, hospitality certainly isn’t a huge risk.

“There will have been transmission in hospitality but it is certainly nowhere near the top of my risk radar.”

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

11.24 - Reopen venues 'safely and swiftly'

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said she looks forward to working with the Government to reopen the sector "safely and swiftly."

Her words come as the Government announced schools would remain closed until at least 8 March. 

10.51 - £200m a day hospitality losses

Britain's pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels lost nearly £200m a day in sales in 2020, according to new figures.

christmas image

Hospitality sector turnover last year dropped by almost £72bn last year, a 54% drop in sales compared to 2019, data from UKHospitality and CGA suggested.

Sales fell from £133.5bn in 2019 to £61.7bn in 2020. This is the equivalent to almost £200m a day or £8m per hour in lost sales for the country’s venues.

Data from the quarterly tracker showed that tougher regional rules and closures near Christmas saw a big drop in the last quarter of 2020.

The sector generated just 14.3bn worth of sales from October to December 2020, a drop of £18.7bn or 57% on the same period of 2019.

Thursday 28 January, 09.45 - 'Staggered approach' will see pubs last to reopen

Pubs may reopen in May, one month after non-essential retail is allowed to relaunch, the Telegraph​ newspaper has reported.

Pubs could be the last to reopen, according to one newspaper (image: Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street.
Pubs could be the last to reopen, according to one newspaper (image: Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street.

The newspaper cites a senior government source as saying the Government wants a "staggered approach" to easing lockdown measures, with different parts of society reopening at a time.

The Prime Minister has previously said opening society would be a "gradual" process.

The lockdown is to be reviewed in mid-February when officials will examine the data on the vaccine rollout, the impact of vaccinations on transmission, coronavirus infection and death rates and pressure on hospitals.

The Government hopes to meet its target of vaccinating everyone over 70 by 15 February.

Details on easing the lockdown are to be presented to MPs on 22 February, the newspaper states.

The pub sector has been urging the Government to allow it to reopen at the same time as non-essential retail.

Chief executive of Admiral Taverns, Chris Jowsey, told The Morning Advertiserhe saw no reason for pubs to remain closed until May.

15.51 - Contactless limit could rise to £100

The limit on a single payment using contactless technology could rise to £100, with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to consult on the change.

Cashless transactions have increased amid the coronavirus pandemic and the limit was raised from £30 to £45 last year.

Now, the FCA said it will "shortly be seeking views on amending our rules".

14.28 - Big brewers ‘deferring annual beer price hike’

Most brewers are postponing beer price increases until later in the year, The Morning Advertiser (MA)​ can reveal.

Previously, brewers have increased beer prices towards the start of the year, which has tended to be in line with inflation.

This year, The MA ​understands, Heineken will be increasing its prices on draught products from April with rises ranging from 2.8% to 4.5%.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

13.13 - 'This would be a catastrophic decision'

11.43 - Chancellor confirms additional support will be announced at Budget

Further economic support will be unveiled at the next Budget in March, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has said.

Will more support for pubs be announced in March? (image :Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street)
Will more support for pubs be announced in March? (image :Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street)

Trade body UKHospitality (UKH) wrote to the Chancellor​ ahead of the deadline for Budget submissions earlier this month (January), urging the Government to extend the VAT cut for another year and continue the business rates holiday for the sector throughout this year.

Sunak told Tory MPs during Treasury Questions in the House of Commons yesterday (Tuesday 26 January) the cost of new coronavirus bailouts could reach £30bn and stated additional measures would be revealed in the Budget (3 March).

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

10.49 - Operators share stories of VAT cut impact

10.07 - Criteria for lockdown easing to be published next month, BBC reports

The BBC has reported the criteria for easing lockdown will include death and hospitalisation numbers, progress of vaccinations, virus changes and how lifting rules will affect the spread of the virus.

scrabble-4957945_1280

Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes to publish details of the criteria next month, according to the BBC's source.

A Government adviser told the BBC the document was likely to be "pretty broad brush" but would mention specific industries.

Johnson said he would be "setting out in more detail as soon as we can when and how we want to get things open again but that will depend on us continuing to beat the disease," at a televised Downing Street briefing last night (Tuesday 26 January).

In recent weeks, pubco bosses have called on the Government to reopen pubs at the same time as non-essential retail​.

Wednesday 27 January, 09.37 - Treasury minister says 'no current plans' for VAT cut extension 

Treasury minister Jesse Norman told MPs that there are no current plans to extend the VAT cut beyond the end of March.

What-financial-support-is-there-for-pubs_wrbm_large

Trade bodies and pub operators have called for an extension of the reduction, which saw VAT on food and soft drinks cut from 20% to 5% on food and soft drinks.

Norman told MPs: "The temporary reduced rate of VAT was introduced to support the cash flow and the viability of over 150,000 businesses and to protect 2.4 million jobs in the hospitality and tourism sectors.

"It was extended in September and extended again, and will now run until 31 March of this year. But the relief comes at a significant cost, and while the Government keep taxes under review, we have no current plans to extend it further."

Pubs could access other forms of Government financial support, he added.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been urged to extend the VAT cut in addition to other vital measures such as the business rates holiday and furlough scheme.

14.19 - 'Furlough masking danger of job losses'

12.05 - 'False dawn' pub reopenings would be absolutely catastrophic

Like everyone else in the on-trade, Stuart Bateman of Lincolnshire-based Batemans wants to see pubs open ‘as soon as possible’ – however the Salem Bridge brewer isn’t buying into the idea of a Government witch hunt.

When-should-pubs-come-out-of-lockdown_wrbm_large

"We are quite a fortunate company we have a very strong asset base and a low borrowing-based balance sheet,” Bateman tells The Morning Advertiser (MA)​. ​“So we are quite well set, as it were, for the future.

"We definitely have no pubs that are going to close for good,” he adds. “The rent concessions we have given is approaching £1m but we're here for the long term, not for short term profit, so I think all of our pubs will come out of this – for which we've had to give them an enormous amount of support.”

Reporting by Stuart Stone

11.26 - ONS figures 'extremely concerning'

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said the Government must intervene to help pubs through the pandemic, after figures released today show further sector job losses.

How-much-beer-has-been-wasted-because-of-coronavirus_wrbm_large (2)

She said: “Rising unemployment and redundancies hitting a record high are extremely concerning. As one of the most devastated sectors by Covid-19, we fear it could get a lot worse unless action is taken.  

“The Chancellor must act to get us over this final hurdle in the fight against the virus. A clear roadmap to reopening is needed to save jobs, along with an economic stimulus package so sectors like ours can bounce back and lead the recovery.”

10.51 - Community raises £60k for pub-zoo as owner urges Government 'don't crush' sector

The owner of a pub which also boasts a zoo on-site has slammed the Government for not doing more to help the sector and said his business “wouldn’t be here” without its regulars.

My Post - 2021-01-25T110842.115

The Fenn Bell Inn, in Medway, Kent, has received £60,000 in community donations to stay afloat – more than double it has received in Government grants (£25,000).

Pubgoers have raised money through crowdfunding pages and taken part in fundraising activities, from fancy dress events to running challenges. The pub has also received donations of food and equipment for the upkeep of the animals on-site.

Operator Andy Cowell explained: “I understand why we are locked down but don't lock us down and leave us to starve to death. That's what is happening, in my eyes.

“You can't just crush and destroy an entire trade and that is what is exactly happening. That will have a knock on effect."

10.46 - 'Extend support'

CEO of Adnams Andy Wood has joined calls from pub and brewing bosses for the Government to extend support measures.

Tuesday 26 January, 09.51 - Hospitality sector worst hit by unemployment

The hospitality industry was worst hit by the rise in unemployment in the three months to November, according to figures published today from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Are-Bolton-pubs-open_wrbm_large

Overall unemployment in the UK increased to 5% from 4.9% in this period as the pub sector battled additional trading restrictions and regional closures.

The ONS said some 1.7m were out of work, the highest level in five years.

The number of people unemployed in hospitality was up by more than 50,000 on the previous year, up 54,000 on the year to 171,000.

The figures come as pub sector leaders have been pressing the Government to announce further relief for pubs, including an extension of the furlough scheme beyond the end of April.

  • Did you lose your job in the pub sector in the past year? The Morning Advertiser would like to hear your story. Please get in touch on rzvyl.unjxvaf@jeoz.pbz​ 

15.26 - No takeaway option for Guernsey pubs

A lockdown was announced in Guernsey over the weekend, meaning pubs and restaurants were forced to shut. Authorities said pubs should not offer takeaway or delivery services but this would be reviewed.

face-mask-4986596_1280

Some 31 cases have been discovered on the island in the past few days, triggering an immediate shutdown.

Islanders have been instructed to stay at home unless for essential reasons such as buying groceries or exercise.

13.49 - Further calls for clarity

13.03 - 'We are at a cliff edge'

12.00 - Laws giving councils power to close pubs subtley extended

Lockdown laws that give local authorities the ability to close pubs and other hospitality venues have been quietly extended by the Government until the summer.

When-will-the-third-lockdown-end-for-pubs_wrbm_large

The regulations​ were originally set to expire on 17 January 2021 but are now set to expire at the end of 17 July 2021.

The changes to the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No.3) Regulations 2020 were made earlier this month by health secretary Matt Hancock, as part of a review of the third lockdown, according to The Sunday Times​.

The law, which was originally introduced on 18 July 2020, means councils have the power to close or limit access to places including outdoor spaces in its locality in a bid to prevent the spread of the disease. This also includes stopping events.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

10.16 - Did you lose your job in the hospitality sector because of the pandemic?

The Morning Advertiser​ is looking to speak to individuals who were employed in the pub and restaurant sector but have since lost their jobs because of the pandemic.

beer-3687802_1280 (1)

This could be a full time role or a regular seasonal job. The MA​ would like to feature the experiences of a few individuals who have been through this situation.

09.52 - 'Return to full normality' once over-50s fully vaccinated, newspaper suggests

The Telegraph​ newspaper has reported “a source close to the discussions” around reopening pubs as suggesting pubs could be opened with tight restrictions around April.

The Government is reportedly considering allowing pubs to reopen with heavy restrictions for a few months (image: Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street on Flickr)
The Government is reportedly considering allowing pubs to reopen with heavy restrictions for a few months (image: Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street on Flickr)

The source told the newspaper ministers were discussing reopening parts of the economy “under similar restrictions to those in place over the summer,” including the rule of six and social distancing.

It said a “return to full normality” would come 12-14 weeks afterwards, when all over-50s would have received their second dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

Ministers want to reopen pubs and restaurants to open “in some capacity” before the G7 summit in early June, held in Cornwall.

The summer will see “halfway-house” measures eased, The Telegraph’s​ report said.

Monday 25 January, 09.25 - Pub group boss warns of lay offs unless support extended

Bath Pub Company owner Joe Cussens has implored the Government to extend the VAT cut for hospitality and business rates holiday.

Extending these policies is the "simple" option.

15.29 - 'Clear exit strategy'

13.37 - 79% operators can only survive closure until May with Government aid, survey reveals

Almost eight in 10 (79%) operators have warned their businesses will only survive a trade shutdown until May with support from Government schemes, research has discovered.

How-many-operators-need-Government-help-to-stay-closed-until-May_wrbm_large

This followed the rumoured closure of pubs until May being slammed as “simply unviable”​ by UKHospitality (UKH) boss Kate Nicholls.

Currently, the existing coronavirus restrictions under the third lockdown rules are set to expire on 31 March 2021.

However, a number of national newspapers have reported that the hospitality trade could remain closed until the spring with a source telling The​​ Sunday Times​​: “The May Day bank holiday is more likely the moment you see pubs reopening.”

The Morning Advertiser ​​understands the Government is keeping the restrictions under constant review but expect the changes will last until at least mid-February.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

11.41 - 'Just the tip of the iceberg'

10.17 - 2020 cost trade 6,000 licensed venues

The UK lost in the region of 6,000 licensed premises in 2020 - almost three times the number closed in 2019, new figures have revealed.

Who-is-responsible-for-social-distancing-at-pubs_wrbm_large

The latest Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners revealed a net decline of 5,975 sites in 2020 – a 5.1% contraction in the market since the end of 2019 and a 175% increase on the 2,171 drop in sites during the same period.

The research found that 9,930 sites permanently closed last year with 3,955 opening for the first time meaning for every one new opening, there were 2.5 closures – nearly double the ratio of 1.3 in 2019.

When broken down into the different areas of the hospitality trade, the community, food and high street pub segments saw venue numbers fall by between 3.9% and 5.1%.

In the casual dining sector, the numbers were even starker where total site numbers dropped by 9.7% in 2020 and 3.8 permanent closures for each new opening.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

Friday 22 January, 09.43 - MPs push Prime Minister to outline timetable for lifting restrictions

A group of 70 Conservative MPs has urged the Prime Minister to outline a roadmap out of lockdown and said lockdown should be eased no later than the beginning of March.

LIVE: The Morning Advertiser will bring you the latest news and reactions to pub-related coronavirus measures (image: Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street on Flickr)
LIVE: The Morning Advertiser will bring you the latest news and reactions to pub-related coronavirus measures (image: Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street on Flickr)

The Covid Recovery Group asked for more details about lifting restrictions “from 8 March”.

“People must see light at the end of the tunnel and feel hope for the future and businesses need to be able to plan our recovery,” the group's chairman Mark Harper told TheDaily Mail​ newspaper.

Boris Johnson told reporters yesterday that it was "too early" to say whether England's lockdown measures would be able to end in the spring.

The Government hopes to vaccinate everyone in the top four priority groups by mid-February and has committed to a review of the measures then.

Echoing the PM, the environment secretary George Eustice, also said it was “too early” to talk about when restrictions could be lifted in England, on BBC Breakfast.

He added: “If we can get those more vulnerable cohorts vaccinated that’s when we turn the corner because the risk to our NHS, the risk to life declines substantially and then we can all start to get back to life as normal over the summer.”

15.47 - No idea on pubs’ place in reopening pecking order

A senior Government Minister today (Thursday 21 January) told The Morning Advertiser ​(MA​) that a date would become evident within the coming weeks should the vaccination programme, coronavirus case numbers and death rates all continue in the right direction.

At-what-point-will-pubs-reopen-in-2021_wrbm_large

The Government is looking at the structure of further restrictions post-lockdown and speaking with pubs, bars and restaurants to limit the negative economic impact of restrictions where possible, it is understood.

As a result, The MA ​has learnt sector leaders and the Government are currently discussing details such as table service and closing times to work out the economic and behavioural impact of tier system restrictions on pubs.

The MA ​was also led to believe that pubs and the wider industry would be given advance notice ahead of any confirmed reopening date to ensure beer can be brewed and businesses can be fully stocked.

It is also understood aid is being looked at on a regular basis and the Government is willing to be flexible to further help protect jobs and businesses.

Reporting by Nicholas Robinson

15.00 - Pub donates expiring snacks to vaccination centre

The Caxton Arms in Brighton has said it will donate snacks to the city's mass vaccination centre.

14.08 - 'Delay loan repayments'

14.06 - Home secretary to lead press briefing

Home secretary Priti Patel is to hold a Downing Street press conference this evening at 5pm.

Home secretary Priti Patel has said it is too early to outline how lockdown restrictions will be eased (image: Richard Townshend photography, Wikimedia Commons)
Home secretary Priti Patel has said it is too early to outline how lockdown restrictions will be eased (image: Richard Townshend photography, Wikimedia Commons)

The minister said earlier this week that it was "no time" to speak about easing lockdown measures, given the number of hospitalisations and deaths relating to coronavirus.

12.40 - Hawthorn calls for ‘clear roadmap’ to reopening following near £10m Q3 pub investment

NewRiver-owned pub company Hawthorn has revealed that it ended 2020 with £250m of available liquidity and having more than doubled its planned Q3 capital expenditure spend.

How-much-did-Hawthorn-spent-on-pubs-at-the-end-of-2020_wrbm_large

According NewRiver’s trading update for the quarter to 31 December, Hawthorn – which operates more than 700 sites – invested a total of £9.4m on 270 pub projects, increasing its average spend-per-project by almost 60%, and adding an extra 61 sites to its investment programme. 

In total, Hawthorn invested in 86% of its portfolio during November’s nationwide lockdown. 

What’s more, the operator has completed £2.7m of non-core pub disposals since 30 September.

“Hawthorn is a dynamic, ambitious company with a proven track record of acquiring pub portfolios, and we have circa £250m of cash and available liquidity to the business, with additional funds available when required,” Hawthorn CEO Mark Davies said.

Reporting by Stuart Stone

11.06 - Speculation over potential furlough extension

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is considering extending the furlough scheme beyond the end of April, according to news organisation Bloomberg​.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is reportedly considering extending furlough (image by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street on Flickr)
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is reportedly considering extending furlough (image by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street on Flickr)

The news site quotes "people familiar with the matter" and includes an extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme among the policies Sunak is debating ahead of the Budget on 3 March.

It comes as hospitality trade organisations have warned that without an extension of vital support, there could be mass redundancies in the spring. 

Workers can have 80% of their wages covered by the Government under the system.

Bloomberg's sources said the Treasury was also exploring policies similar to the Job Retention Bonus and the Jobs Support Scheme, policies announced before furlough was extended until the spring.

Operators and trade associations told The Morning Advertiserfurther support for pubs was critical​ and said measures such as furlough, the VAT reduced rate and the business rates holiday should be extended.

Thursday 21 January, 09.53 - Pubs hit by flooding devastation 

Widespread flooding across England and Wales has caused further difficulties for pubs, with more than 200 flood warnings in place.

Group-action-against-Eaton-Gate-QIC-Europe-insurance-policies_wrbm_large

The Government has told residents in the North West of England to prepare for the risk of significant flooding for the rest of this week. Yorkshire and the Midlands have also been significantly affected by Storm Christoph.

Homes have been evacuated in parts of Manchester and in Ruthin and Bangor-on-Dee, North Wales.

Licensees shared their experiences on social media.

The Square & Compass in Matlock, Derbyshire, shared a video of the flooded venue​ from its Facebook page and offered residents sandbags to help protect their homes.

  • Has your pub been impacted by the flooding? Or helped out your community in its time of need? Please get in touch with your experience on rzvyl.unjxvaf@jeoz.pbz​ 

16.29 - What do readers want from the Budget?

13.44 - Sector reeling at rate of grant payments

13.10 - 'We don't need to stay closed until May'

Pubs should be allowed to reopen alongside non-essential retail outlets, according to the chief executive of Admiral Taverns. 

Admiral-acquisition-of-137-Marston-s-pubs-complete_wrbm_large

Chris Jowsey called for more targeted support for wet-led community pubs and claimed the Government’s existing support had been “welcome but insufficient”. 

“I just don't believe we need to stay closed until May to be honest,” the pubco boss told The Morning Advertiser​. 

“If you look at the speed – so far, fingers’ crossed – of the vaccination rollout, it's really important we get those most vulnerable protected, and then we can go back to more open trading."

He added: “I can understand the need to keep things very controlled while we have got a lot of hospitalisations going on currently, but hopefully that will begin to flatten out very soon.”

"In my mind, if it's not March, it's the beginning of April."

11.20 - Scottish lockdown extended as nation in 'very precarious position'

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has extended Scotland's lockdown, suggesting schools will be able to begin a phased return in mid-February.

glasgow-2997986_1280

While lockdown measures had started to show an impact, the country remained in a "very precarious position," Sturgeon said.

She added: "We need to be realistic that any improvement we are seeing is down, at this stage, to the fact that we are staying at home and reducing our interactions.

"Any relaxation of lockdown while case numbers, even though they might be declining, nevertheless remain very high, could quickly send the situation into reverse."

The next lockdown review for Scotland will take place on 2 February. 

10.33 - What does the pub sector want from the 3 March Budget?

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has called on the Government to deliver a “bold package of support” within the upcoming Budget.

What-do-pubs-want-from-the-3-March-Budget_wrbm_large

She said: “Some businesses have inevitably and sadly gone to the wall, and we have lost about 650,000 jobs. Thankfully, many more businesses have managed to adapt and are still managing to cling on, keeping jobs safe and giving their staff, customers and communities hope that they will be able to reopen once the vaccine roll-out makes it safe to do so."

UKH would like to see extensions to the hospitality VAT reduced rate of 5% and business rates holiday.

Nicholls added: "We know from recent history that hospitality has the economic clout to be in the vanguard of economic recovery once the crisis has passed, but only if essential support is extended.

“A wide-ranging package of financial support will give hospitality businesses the best chance of not just surviving the remainder of the crisis but leading the UK’s economic recovery in the years ahead.

“If we get what we need, hospitality can spearhead the economic recovery of the country, revive high streets and provide employment and investment in every single region.”

09.50 - Easter easing?

While politicians are reticent to speak on the record about when restrictions may be eased, The Sun​ has reported​ Cabinet Office officials are considering how some measures could be eased by Easter.

easter-egg-3257179_1280

“It’s likely most of the country would automatically go back into tier four — the highest level of restrictions with pubs and shops still shut — to begin with,” the newspaper writes.

“Slowly areas may be allowed back into tiers three and two that allow more activities and households to meet up outside, with no single ‘big bang moment’ of unlocking. Households are able to meet up outside in tier two giving hope for Easter get togethers.”

Providing the tier system is similar to its pre-lockdown form, tier two would mean pubs could reopen under heavy trading restrictions. However, operators told The Morning Advertiser​ they see a reopening with previous restrictions in place as "unviable" or a "Catch 22".

Wednesday 20 January, 09.30 - 'No time to speak about the relaxation of measures'

Home secretary Priti Patel has said the Government will not publicly release any details about the unlocking of society yet as it is too early.

Home secretary Priti Patel has said it is too early to outline how lockdown restrictions will be eased (image: Richard Townshend photography, Wikimedia Commons)
Home secretary Priti Patel has said it is too early to outline how lockdown restrictions will be eased (image: Richard Townshend photography, Wikimedia Commons)

“We are at a pivotal stage," she told Sky News​ this morning. "Our vaccine rollout is under way but we have a long way to go with vaccination.

“We cannot talk about easing restrictions and measures until we are absolutely clear we have vaccinated priority groups.”

She continued: “Quite frankly, when I look at the incredible work that is taking place in the NHS right now, when we still see hospitalisation figures now standing at over 38,000 people, with the number of people still dying with coronavirus, with the number of hospital admissions increasing, this is no time to speak about the relaxation of measures and we’re not going to do that publicly yet.

“We have a long way to go.”

The UK recorded an additional 1,610 coronavirus deaths yesterday (Tuesday 19 January), the highest figure reported on a single day since the start of the pandemic.

15.37 - Former Greene King boss has 'raised £200m to invest' in pub sector recovery

Former Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand has reportedly raised around £200m for a series of acquisitions, according to Sky News.

beer-2689537_1280 (1)

The news organisation has reported that Anand is being backed by a US-based private equity firm and will focus on smaller acquistions through the Redcat Pub Company.

12.49 - 'Completely unacceptable' 

Labour MP for Sefton Central Bill Esterson has shared the dismay of the British Beer and Pub Association that more than half of second-lockdown grants still have not been paid out by local authorities.

11.20 - Without extension of support, sector will face 'perfect storm' 

Night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord has urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend vital support for the hospitality sector, ahead of the Budget on 3 March.

water-1245985_1280

He said: "Many businesses will have taken on credit, whether that's through the Government loan schemes, or other debt racked up in a bid to keep companies from going under. These operators won't be able to repay this debt quickly, and I anticipate we're looking at a period of three to four years before many feel financially stable or in a position to fully repay on loans.

"The support given to these industries throughout the crisis has been welcomed, but I'm now looking at the Chancellor to double down on efforts and recognise the importance of these lost sectors on the UK economy. The Government must extend the existing range of measures to provide assurance and give confidence to those working within them.

"Where things stand by the end of April, the VAT reduction, rates holidays, changes to insolvency measures and furlough scheme will have all ended. Continuing this support and extending these schemes on a rolling twelve month basis will be crucial to the survival of the majority of businesses. Without this, we will see a perfect storm of debt repayments, and whole subsections of our economy fail."

10.22 - MP joins calls for takeaway booze ban U-turn

Conservative MP for Meon Valley Flick Drummond has written to the business secretary about the "unfair" ban on takeaway alcohol sales.

Will-the-Government-reverse-alcohol-takeaway-ban-on-pubs_wrbm_large

The letter said: “The current legal position, whereby pub and breweries cannot sell alcohol for takeaway is one of which is of deep concern to the trade and to constituents who have contacted me to protest about the law.

“It seems illogical to them to say they cannot go to their local pub or brewery, which is likely to be relatively quiet, to buy beer or wine, but they can go to a supermarket, which is likely to be very busy, to do so.

"Can I ask if the department will review the position on this and revert to the position from the November national lockdown when takeaway sales were permitted?"

Tuesday 19 January, 09.52 - Readers against Gov adverts

The Morning Advertiser's​ readers said they believe the Government's new advert on takeaway coffee is unfair. Some 66% of readers said they think the adverts are not fair and hospitality has been targeted enough, while 32% said they felt the graphic was fair.

coffee-cup-5859641_1280

The advert focuses on the importance of safe behaviour when buying a takeaway coffee, such as hand hygiene and social distancing. Pubs can currently sell takeaway soft drinks and food under lockdown laws.

The survey is still open on this live blog below.

16.18 - What do you think?

Do you believe the Government's new graphic is unfairly targeting hospitality? Vote in our survey.

Survey

Is the Government's new 'don't let a coffee cost lives' lockdown message fair?

  • Yes, lockdown needs to be enforced

    27%
  • No, hospitality has been targeted enough

    70%
  • Unsure

    3%

16.01 - Gov adverts 'tar hospitality with blame', Loungers' co-founder says

Loungers chairman and co-founder Alex Reilley tweeted he believes new Government lockdown adverts "tar hospitality with blame".

The Government graphic tells people to stay at home apart from a few limited reasons and states "don't let a coffee cost lives".

Loungers' boss Reilley said this was "sadly predictable."

14.28 - £2.7m rent dispute between Wellington and tenants

Millions of pounds of rent owed to billionaire-owned pub group Wellington Pub Company from some of its tenants is currently in dispute, according to a survey.

How-much-beer-has-been-sold-in-2020_wrbm_large (5)

Wellington Pub Company is owned by the Reuben Brothers and managed by Criterion Asset Management. In May 2019, The Sunday Times Rich List ​estimated the family had a net worth of £18.66bn.

Licensees previously told The Morning Advertiser (MA) ​​of their despair about a lack of communication from the group​​ and rebuffed the landlord's offer​ of three months' free rent and two quarters charged at 50% last year.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

13.25 - 'Open pubs same time as shops'

Night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord has said hospitality should be allowed to reopen at the same time as non-essential retail.

13.01 - What does the Supreme Court judgement mean for hospitality?

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), UKHospitality (UKH) and the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) all reacted positively to the Supreme Court’s decision on business interruption cover.

keyboard-621830_1280

A member survey by the BBPA in May 2020 found more than half (56%) of sector firms had business interruption cover applications turned down, while separate research from the British Institute of Innkeepers (BII) found that fewer than one-in-20 (3%) of pubs had been successful in making a claim.

However, as reported by The Morning Advertiser (MA)​, on 15 January the Supreme Court ruled that a large number of business interruption insurance policyholders will now be entitled to cover for losses incurred due to national Covid-19 measures.

The court said it “substantially allows” the appeal by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and campaign groups Hiscox Action Group and Hospitality Insurance Group Action which came after leading insurers contested insurance claims made by businesses faced with enforced closure or significant losses due to March’s lockdown.  

Reporting by Stuart Stone.

12.17 - What has Prime Minister Boris Johnson said about appointing a hospitality minister?

Boris Johnson dodged an MP's question when asked if he would meet with #SeatAtTheTable ​petitioners to discuss the possibility of a dedicated minister for the sector.

What-financial-support-is-there-for-pubs_wrbm_large

He responded: “She’s right to identify the particular troubles of the hospitality sector. They have been through a very, very difficult time.

“We are doing everything we can to support them. The Chancellor, the business secretary and I, meet regularly with representatives of that sector.

“We have given them all the grants, the recent increase in grants that you know of, the recent £3,000 grants specifically for the hospitality sector, on top of the CBILS (Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme), the Bounce Back Loans, the furlough scheme and many, many other forms of support.

“But the best thing for the hospitality sector is really that we all work together to defeat the virus in the way I am absolutely certain we can with disciplined action and the vaccine roll out and get them back on their feet.

“That, I’m sure, is the best thing for them.”

11.03 - 'Further injections of support' needed 

10.32 - 'Number of caveats' in the way of reopening 

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has suggested lockdown measures will not begin to be eased before March.

vaccine-5895477_1280

The Government aims to vaccinate those in the top four priority groups before mid-February, when lockdown rules are set to be reviewed.

Zahwai told BBC Breakfast​ a gradual un-locking would likely come "two to three weeks after the middle of February, after we've protected the top four cohorts."

He added: "If we take the mid-February target, two weeks after that you get your protection, pretty much, for the Pfizer/BioNTech, three weeks for the Oxford/AstraZeneca, you are protected.

"One of the things we don't know yet, and the deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam is on record as saying 'look give me a couple of months and I'll tell you', is the impact of the vaccine on transmission rates i.e on infecting people.

"So there are a number of caveats that stand in the way of us reopening the economy.

"But I think rightly, the combination of vaccination and mass testing will allow us to open up the economy gradually."

Monday 18 January, 10.13 - Operators share wishes to halt reopening until restrictions eased 

Operators have responded to rumours of closures until the spring on social media and said they feel it will probably be impossible to trade with restrictions after reopening is allowed.

spring 2021

It has been speculated that pubs could be one of the last sectors to reopen.

One Morning Advertiser​ reader wrote on Facebook: "Being 'allowed' to open with restrictions is the death knell...we have to be able to open as normal and concentrate on creating the experience that is our only USP."

Another posted: "I certainly don't want to reopen with any restrictions, nor with a threat of winter disruption."

"Better waiting until May and having no tier restrictions than opening in March and being unable to operate due to restrictions," another operator commented. 

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said there would be a "phased transition out of the national lockdown" if the Government met its targets on vaccinations by spring.

"It won't be a big bang, it'll possibly be back through the Tiers system", Raab said on the Andrew Marr Show​ at the weekend.

  • What do you think? Would you be happy to reopen your pub under another tiered system of trading restrictions? Get in touch on rzvyl.unjxvaf@jeoz.pbz​ to share your experience.

14.35 - Whitbread cuts 1,500 jobs

The parent company of Beefeater, Brewers Fayre and Premier Inn confirmed 1,500 job losses in its latest trading update – just over 4% of its 36,000 staff.

How-many-redundancies-has-Whitbread-made-due-to-coronavirus_wrbm_large

The Q3 FY21 update, which covered the 13 weeks to 26 November 2020, stated the Government’s Covid-19 restrictions continued to create very challenging hotel market conditions and as a result, total UK accommodation sales were down 55.2% with occupancy at 49.3%.

The firm stated the Government restrictions had a greater impact on the operations of its restaurants with the national lockdowns and measures in the highest tiers forcing closures.

On average, 82% of its restaurants were open during the quarter and combined with reduced capacity in each site and subdued market demand, total food and beverage sales were 53.9% behind year on year.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher.

13.52 - PM to hold press conference 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold a press briefing tonight at 5pm.

13.26 - St Austell boss calls for VAT cut extension 

Chief executive of St Austell Brewery, Kevin Georgel, has tweeted in support of calls for a 12 month extension to the reduced VAT rate.

10.48 - Business interruption judgement 'massive boost' amid third lockdown

The Supreme Court has said it "substantially allows” the appeal by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and campaign groups Hiscox Action Group and Hospitality Insurance Group Action which came after leading insurers contested insurance claims made by businesses faced with enforced closure or significant losses due to March’s lockdown. 

Have-pubs-closed-because-of-coronavirus_wrbm_large

Richard Leedham, partner at Mishcon de Reya – which represented the Hiscox Action Group – said: "We are glad that the Supreme Court has found that the vast majority of policyholders of non-property damage business interruption cover will have cover for their business interruption losses caused by the national response of Government to Covid-19

“The Supreme Court has recognised that, just when this cover was needed most by thousands of UK businesses, insurers were wrong to argue that coverage was applicable only if there were narrow local restrictions, that they could deny claims because the cover had not been intended to be provided and/or because the interruption and therefore losses would have happened in any event. 

“The judgement should be a massive boost to all businesses reeling from a third lockdown who can now demand their claims are paid."

10.20 - 'Some good news'

London’s night czar Amy Lamé has said the insurance ruling is welcome news for businesses "hit hard" by the pandemic.

10.05 - 'Big win for small businesses'

The Supreme Court have dismissed an appeal from insurers on an earlier decision about business interruption policies and coronavirus.

Night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord shared his reaction on Twitter.

More to follow...

Friday 15 January, 09.33 - 'Grabbing a coffee can kill'

It has been reported that the Government is considering a tougher messaging campaign to discourage people from testing the limits of lockdown laws.

takeaway coffee

The Spectator​ reported that "one draft advert being considered for publication reads along the lines of 'grabbing a coffee can kill'."

The magazine suggested Downing Street wanted to "focus on stronger messaging while they wait and see whether the new measures are working."

"Tweaks to guidance rather than changes to the regulations are viewed as more likely in the short term," the article added.

"In the meantime, expect tougher messaging on the current rules – with new adverts being drawn up."

Home secretary Priti Patel told ITV new rules would not be announced this week, although she did not rule out any additional restrictions being introduced in the weeks to come.

"This isn't about new rules coming in – we're going to stick with enforcing the current measures.

 "We are not thinking about bringing in new measures today or tomorrow, Patel said on This Morning​ yesterday (Thursday 14 January).

14.30 - Listen to the latest episode of the Lock In

With the pub industry back under full lockdown, the podcast team review the Christmas that wasn't, discuss the current dilemmas facing the trade, and kick around some practical ideas of what pubs can be doing while we await the next government decision on the future.

The-Morning-Advertiser-Lock-In-podcast-episode-9_wrbm_large

12.10 - VAT reduced rate a lifeline, survey shows

UKHospitality CEO, Kate Nicholls, has reiterated the association’s calls for an extension of the reduced VAT rate beyond March 2021. 

My Post (81)

She said: "The decision of the Chancellor to cut VAT to 5% last July was one of the few bright spots of the year and stimulated economic growth before the second wave began to hit.

"If the Government wants to see a turbo-charged recovery in communities right across the UK then an extension of the VAT cut is the surest way to do it – creating jobs, investment in our high streets and helping customers get a cheaper hospitality experience.”

11.05 - What impact would a click and collect ban have on hospitality? 

It has been speculated by some media outlets that the Government is considering reviewing click and collect services, after concerns about long queues and busy town centres in lockdown.

Can-pubs-reopen-on-4-July_wrbm_large

The NPD Group foodservice insights director Dominic Allport said: “The impact of a Government-imposed closure of click and collect takeaway meals would be devastating to the restaurant trade, especially the small independents that so many Brits frequent up and down the country.

“Many of these operators have invested heavily to continue to provide takeaway meals to their customers during an extremely challenging time and the public has responded by increasing their use of click and collect.

“It’s no exaggeration to say for the local restaurants particularly, click and collect is now the difference between survival and closure.”

09.42 - 'Bring conversation back to financial support'

Night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord has implored the sector to focus on calling for urgent support, rather than a reopening date.

His words come after it was rumoured pubs would not reopen until May.

Thursday 14 January, 09.33 - Scotland tightens takeaway rules

Welcome back to The MA's​ live blog.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced several changes to the Scottish lockdown yesterday, including a tightening of rules around takeaways from pubs.

scrabble-4957945_1280

The Scottish parliament is to approve a number of new laws, including making it illegal for takeaways to be collected indoors at a venue. Instead, they must be collected from a doorway or hatch.

It will soon be illegal to drink takeaway pints in an outdoors public place in any level four area.

Click and collect services will be limited to essential products and people have been told to only leave home for essential reasons.

15.15 - Public enemy number 1?

One London pub has made its feelings towards the takeaway alcohol ban very clear.

12.49 - MP calls for 'sustained' support for hospitality

Labour MP Lucy Powell said hospitality businesses need a long term plan to "survive to the spring".

12.37 -  Operators describe differing experiences claiming support grants

Members of the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) have reported varying experiences of local authorities paying out grant support, with one in seven still waiting for a single payment.

village-3735180_1280

Chief executive of the BII Steve Alton said a membership survey confirmed licensees had “very different experiences” with claiming support, depending on where they were located.

He added: “We have taken our findings to the heart of Government, to call on them to make the process as simple as possible for all, and to support local authorities who are clearly struggling to cope with the additional demands placed on them.”

10.30 - MPs back calls for hospitality minister

MPs have voted in favour of minister for hospitality post being created after the matter was discussed in the House of Commons yesterday.

While there will be no direct action as a result of yesterday's vote, it is hoped that the show of support will increase pressure on the Prime Minister to back the sector.

Tuesday 12 January, 09.47 - Public backs more lockdown flexibility for pubs

More than half of the UK public believe pubs should be allowed to trade as off-licences in England's third lockdown and sell drinks in sealed containers, according to a survey of 7,000 people.

london-1018629_1280

The survey by market researchers Find Out Now comes after trade bodies have pressed the Government to reverse its stance.

Selling takeaway drinks is banned in order to discourage people from gathering outside pubs, the Government told The Morning Advertiser​.

However, 54% of those surveyed by Find Out Now agreed that pubs should be allowed to sell takeaway alcohol while 29% disagreed. Some 18% said they didn't know.

15.34 - Greene King outlines rent plans

Greene King has confirmed its tied tenants will continue receiving 90% rent concessions until the end of the current lockdown.

How-is-Greene-King-helping-tied-tenants-during-coronavirus_wrbm_large

Greene King Pub Partners managing director, Wayne Shurvinton, said: “The great British pub has been in a fight for its survival since the first lockdown in March 2020. We have stood shoulder to shoulder with our partners since that date and we are determined to keep doing all we can to support them now.

“However, reducing rents alone will not be enough and without further government support, pubs will continue losing money every week while they remain closed.

“The latest grants are a good step in the right direction but with no date for pubs to reopen, they will soon vanish on other overheads and outstanding bills.

“Pubs need guarantees of further long-term support from government, such as an extension of the current VAT cut for hospitality and a continuation of the current business rates relief. As it stands, both of these would come to an end at around the point in the spring when it looks like pubs could finally be able to reopen. This could be the cruellest blow of all to hard-working publicans who reopen their pubs to welcome customers back in and suddenly see costs spiral.”

12.39 - Reopening speculation 'another example of the unfair targeting of pubs'

Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), Emma McClarkin, has said the association hopes speculation about pubs being forced to remain closed until May is false.

BBPA-chief-executive-Emma-McClarkin-future-plans_wrbm_large (1)

"We strongly believe that pubs are safe places to socialise and can play an important role in our social and economic recovery," she said.

“If pubs are forced to stay close until May, it would mean they have faced 14 months of lockdowns and restrictions. How on earth could the Government expect them to survive? 

“Sadly, these rumours are another example of the unfair targeting of pubs and have no thought for hardworking publicans and communities across the country who fear the loss of their homes, livelihoods and heart of their communities. 

“The Government has a duty to tell publicans when it plans to let them reopen with a clear roadmap alongside the vaccination programme. If it won’t be until May then it needs to extend financial support for them to survive and to brewers whose businesses also face jeopardy."

10.28 - How can you watch the Government debate on a minister for hospitality?

The appointment of the UK’s first ever dedicated hospitality minister will be debated in Parliament today after more than 200,000 sector supporters signed a petition.

MPs-letter-to-business-secretary_wrbm_large

As reported by The Morning Advertiser (MA)​, a parliamentary debate has been on the cards since December​ following the success of the #SeatAtTheTable campaign, which won the backing of celebrity chefs including James Martin as well as other high profile hospitality stakeholders.

When the notion of a dedicated minister for hospitality was initially raised, the Government responded by recognising the importance of the sector but reasserting that it was already catered for under existing infrastructure. 

“The sector is extremely broad, ranging from the arts and entertainment to pubs, cafes and restaurants, and as such responsibility for the sector as a whole is shared by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport,” a response explained.

However, having notched more than 200,000 signatures since November, the petition will be debated by MPs at 4.30pm and will be available to watch via the UK Parliament YouTube channel​ or on Parliament TV​.

Reporting by Stuart Stone

Monday 11 January, 09.42 - Could pubs be closed until May?

Several newspapers are reporting rumours that the Government is considering keeping pubs closed until Monday 3 May.

spring 2021

The speculation has arisen after newspapers picked up on comments made by an unnamed Government source to The Sunday Times​.​ They are quoted as saying: “The May Day bank holiday is more likely the moment you see pubs reopening.”

The source told the newspaper that Number 10 officials are looking at 23 March, the anniversary of the first lockdown, as a "more realistic" moment to relax rules.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the Government will "unwrap" restrictions gradually.

Lockdown measures are to be reviewed in mid-February, although the legislation is bound to expire on 31 March 2021.

14.58 - De facto off-licence option 'has been removed'

Pubs have been instructed to not reinvent themselves as shops in order to dodge the takeaway alcohol sales ban, The MA​ reported yesterday.

However, is this illegal? Partner at licensing solictors Poppleston Allen, Andy Grimsey, shared his thoughts.

He said: "As the amended lockdown regulations expressly remove the ability to provide take-away of alcohol for pubs and bars it doesn’t appear legal under the regulations to ‘repurpose’ as an off-licence, nor does it seem in line with the spirit of the new lockdown restrictions, whether you agree with them or not.

"Previously pubs and bars could trade as de facto off-licences, but that option has been removed."

"Of course they can still provide deliveries, subject to the permissions on their premises licence and under the Business and Planning Act, which allows for deliveries in certain circumstances if they are not already permitted under your premises licence," he added.

13.55 - How can pubs become vaccination hubs? 

Mike Williams, operations director at Food Alert has considered how pubs could become vaccination centres in the fight against coronavirus.

He writes: "As we embark on yet another national lockdown the one glimmer of hope lies in the knowledge that we now have vaccines to fight against Covid-19.

"Once again, hospitality has stepped up to show its sense of community, responsibility and innovation even in its darkest hour, with pubs, bars and restaurants offering their premises as hubs for delivering vaccinations.

"We are working with a number of these venues, including BrewDog who led the march, to advise on the practicalities of switching a pub to a vaccination centre."  

10.37 - Star continues 90% rent reduction for L&T pubs

Heineken pub arm Star Pubs & Bars has announced it is continuing its 90% rent reduction for lessees and tenants for January.

How-much-rent-is-Star-charging-tenants-for-January-2021_wrbm_large

The pubco said it would also continue to keep rent concessions under constant review and will depend on any Government policy alterations.

It estimated the latest round of rent reduction means Star has invested more than £44m since the first national lockdown last March.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

Friday 8 January, 10.30 - Pub rent review negotiations suspended until further notice

The Pub Governing Body (PGB) England and Wales and the Scottish Pub Governing Body have agreed to suspend rent reviews until further notice amid fresh lockdown restrictions.

bar-413709_1280 (1)

According to a statement released on Thursday 7 January, all defined periods within England, Wales and Scotland’s codes of practice will be paused while pubs are closed under blanket Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.  

In practical terms, this means that all ongoing and upcoming rental negotiations will be postponed, that there will be no requirement for business development managers to respond within 35 days, and that the response may come from an alternative pub company representative. 

What’s more, visits for the purposes of rent assessment are being put on hold until pubs re-open and requests submitted by a tenant for a rent review during the suspension period have been paused until said period ends.

Reporting by Stuart Stone

14.16 - Pubs 'should not attempt to repurpose themselves as shops or off-licenses' to sell alcohol

A Government spokesperson has told The Morning Advertiser​ pubs should not encourage customers to come to their premises to buy alcohol despite supermarkets being free to.

Impact-of-new-tiers-on-pubs_wrbm_large

The spokesperson said: “Public health and safety remains our number one priority. Pubs and other hospitality venues cannot serve alcohol to takeaway to discourage people from gathering outside their premises, but they can sell alcohol as part of delivery services.

"They should not attempt to repurpose themselves as shops or off-licenses in order to circumvent these restrictions."

Pub sector representatives have said this is unfair as pubs face months of closure and have stock to use up.

13.24 - Mitchells & Butlers say 'monthly cash burn' £35-40m

Pub group Mitchells & Butlers is considering raising money from investors as the closure of its estate stretches on , according to a BBC report.

The chain told the BBC: "The directors believe it is prudent to explore an equity capital raise.

"With no sites trading, ongoing monthly cash burn is approximately £35m to £40m."

13.16 - What do pubs need to know about furlough?

The Morning Advertiser​ takes a look at what operators need to know about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme amid the third national lockdown.

What-do-pubs-need-to-know-about-furlough_wrbm_large

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak originally announced the ‘furlough’ scheme in the spring of 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic first hit the country.

It covered 80% of employees’ salary (up to £2,500 a month) and currently, still does but employers now have to pay wages, national insurance contributions and pensions for hours worked alongside national insurance contributions and pensions for hours not worked.

Sunak most recently announced the scheme would be extended until the end of April 2021, with the eligibility criteria for the UK-wide scheme remaining unchanged and these changes will continue to apply to all devolved administrations.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher.

12.05 - Oakman offers to swap £250k in grants for making sites vaccine hubs

Oakman Inns has offered to forego £250,000 in grants in exchange for using its sites as vaccination centres.

The group estimated under the Chancellor’s business grants announced this week, Oakman would be eligible for more than a quarter of a million pounds during the next four months.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced this week (Tuesday 5 January) pubs could claim grants of up to £9,000​, dependent on rateable value amid the third national lockdown.

The 28-strong operator has venues across the Home Counties and Midlands and stated its large refrigeration areas were Covid-safe.

Oakman chief executive Dermot King said: “The only route to any normality is through mass vaccination and for that the NHS needs to be able to work at scale. The entire hospitality industry is desperate to reopen as quickly as possible before we have huge scale redundancies across the sector,” he said.

“Our pubs have large indoor spaces and in some cases large car parks and accommodation, which could accommodate large numbers of people around the clock."

10.30 - Government support must be extended 'to vital supply chain'

Managing director for Western Europe at Molson Coors, Phil Whitehead has called the ban on takeaway alcohol sales "needless" and described it as "another devastating blow for pubs, bars and restaurants that impinges their ability to keep their businesses running."

Who-is-responsible-for-social-distancing-at-pubs_wrbm_large

He has urged the Government to provide more support, "beyond just the frontline venues, to the vital supply chain they depend on".

Whitehead said: “The UK brewing industry is the envy of the world because of its unrivalled variety – from large brewers offering household name brands to the thousands of craft and micro-breweries that make the sector such a rich tapestry.

"The pub and brewing sector employs almost 1m people and plays a vital role in communities across the country, but unless action is taken committing to an extension of the 5% VAT rate to all drinks sold in pubs as well reducing beer duty rate, we risk losing large swathes of this essential ingredient of Britain’s unique hospitality culture.” 

09.55 - Share your stories of community help with the Government

Thursday 7 January, 09.38 - MPs back third lockdown

MPs put their support behind the lockdown with 524 votes for and 16 against in a vote last night (Wednesday 6 January).

Their vote came after the laws came into force just after midnight yesterday, instructing English residents to stay at home unless for limited essential reasons.

westminster-347971_1280

The lockdown was supported by Labour.

Some 16 rebels voted against the lockdown, including 12 Conservative MPs and 4 DUP:

Conservative: 

Graham Brady, MP for Altrincham and Sale West

Philip Davies, MP for Shipley

Richard Drax, MP for south Dorset

Karl McCartney, MP for Lincoln

Stephen McPartland, MP for Stevenage

Esther McVey, MP for Tatton

Anne Marie Morris, MP for Newton Abbot

Andrew Rosindell, MP for Romford

Desmond Swayne, MP for New Forest West

Robert Syms, MP for Poole

Charles Walker, MP for Broxbourne

David Warburton, MP for Somerton and Frome

DUP: 

Sammy Wilson, MP for east Antrim

Paul Girvan, MP for south Antrim

Carla Lockhart, MP for Upper Bann

Ian Paisley, MP for north Antrim

15.31 - 'Brewery shops can remain open,' SIBA advises

The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has advised that brewery shops and bottle shops can remain open as before.

The organisation said it understood the Government was "reviewing the restrictions on pubs".

15.08 - Are pubs and bars open anywhere in Europe?

After England was plunged into its third national lockdown following an announcement on 4 January, The MA​ scanned Europe’s hospitality sector for signs of life amid tightened restrictions.

Are-pubs-and-bars-open-anywhere-in-Europe_wrbm_large (1)

12.26 - Deliveries must be to a fixed address

Deliveries of food and alcohol from pubs should only be to fixed addresses, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has confirmed to The MA.

trees-5458911_1280

This means a residential or business address rather than a park or nearby off-site location.

Delivery addresses should take into account that people are not allowed to leave their homes apart from for essential reasons.

People are allowed to leave home to buy groceries, exercise, acquire medical supplies or assistance and meet up with one person from another household for exercise.

It means pubs will not be allowed to deliver pints to parks, as some did in the spring.

12.13 - Can pubs serving takeaways in third lockdown get grants?

Pubs offering takeaway services during the third lockdown can claim the grants of up to £9,000, announced by the Government, The Morning Advertiser (MA) has learnt.

How-many-MPs-voted-for-tier-system_wrbm_large

As with the second lockdown in November, there had been some concern pubs wouldn’t be eligible for the grants if they were still operating a business but The MA ​understands this is not the case.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced yesterday (Tuesday 5 January) pubs could claim grants of up to £9,000, dependent on rateable value amid the third national lockdown.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

11.58 -  Admiral Taverns boss backs takeaway pint campaign

10.11 - Brains beer could be brewed outside Wales

The brewing company's chief executive Alistair Darby has said its beer could soon be brewed outside of Wales.

Brains-brewery-may-be-relocated-to-England_wrbm_large

It comes after Marston's announced they would take over operating 156 Brains pubs.

Now it has been confirmed there are discussions about the closure of the Cardiff brewing site.

He told news organisations: "The important thing is that the family retain ownership of the beer and brand.

"We need to work out how to perpetuate the brand, which is very important to Wales, and we are likely to need to find a new location.

"If it is brewed elsewhere, it must be of the highest quality. It must be of the finest condition."

10.04 - Pubs step up to help communities 

Pubs have been sharing how they are to help their areas through lockdown on social media. 

Are you launching a community effort? Let us know on rzvyl.unjxvaf@jeoz.pbz​ 

Wednesday 6 January, 09.45 - New lockdown begins in England

MPs will debate lockdown laws in the House of Commons later, after the rules came into force in the early hours of this morning.

scrabble-4957945_1280

The lockdown requires English residents to stay at home unless it is for essential reasons such as buying food or exercise. 

Pubs and bars must remain closed with the exception of operating takeaway and delivery services. However, the new regulations​ have amended existing laws and have excluded alcohol sales from what is permitted to be sold for takeaway.

Pubs are not allowed to sell takeaways of food and non-alcoholic drinks between the hours of 11pm and 5am.

Food and drink, including alcohol products, can be provided by delivery with no time restrictions. The MA​ has been seeking to clarify what the exact rules around delivery of alcohol are and will update its coverage accordingly.

Guidance on the Government website states​: "Hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs; with the exception of providing food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect and drive-through. All food and drink (including alcohol) can continue to be provided by delivery."

The lockdown will be reviewed in mid-February.

15.30 - What financial support is available to pubs in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland? 

Following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that England would be plunged into its third national lockdown in an address on 4 January, The Morning Advertiser​ rounds up what funding is available across the UK.

What-financial-support-is-available-to-pubs-in-England-Scotland-Wales-and-Northern-Ireland_wrbm_large

The morning after Boris Johnson, once again, told people in England to stay at home amid the introduction of lockdown measures mirroring those seen in March of last year, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced that the UK's pubs would be entitled to one-off grants of up to £9,000​ as part of a £4.6bn fund to support businesses shuttered by the latest lockdown.  

Pubs across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland with a rateable value of up to £15,000 will be able to claim £4,000, those valued between £15,000 and £51,000 will be entitled to £6,000 while businesses with a rateable value of more than £51,000 will be eligible for up to £9,000.

Reporting by Stuart Stone.

12.53 - 'Using a sledgehammer to crack a nut'

The Morning Advertiser's​ editor Ed Bedington has criticised rules surrounding the sale of takeaway alcohol.

How-much-beer-has-been-wasted-because-of-coronavirus_wrbm_large (2)

He writes: "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."

12.26 - 'Last day of takeaway'

12.17 - Some restrictions could be lifted 'as we enter March'

The Cabinet Office minister Micheal Gove has told Sky News national lockdown laws are likely to remain in force until the spring.

He said: “We can’t predict with certainty that we’ll be able to lift restrictions the week commencing the 15 to 22 [February], what we will be doing is everything we can to make sure that as many people as possible are vaccinated so that we can begin progressively to lift restrictions.

“I think it’s right to say that, as we enter March, we should be able to lift some of these restrictions – but not necessarily all.”

11.29 - Takeaway alcohol permitted in other nations

Pubs in Scotland and Wales can sell alcohol to takeaway and click-and-collect, it has been suggested by UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls.

Guidance for hospitality venues in Scotland explains​: "Takeaways permitted for alcohol and food at all levels, as per existing arrangements, though operators should be mindful of any gatherings developing in the vicinity of their premises following the off-sale of alcohol/food i.e. customers should not loiter in the vicinity to consume their purchase as this is likely to breach current limits for mixing outdoors, particularly in higher level areas - a maximum of 2 people from 2 households."

It is understood more details about what exactly will be permitted for English pubs regarding alcohol deliveries will be published within the legislation for the third lockdown. These laws are expected to be published tonight ahead of a vote on Wednesday 6 January.

11.11 - Grant 'not gonna get me a long way'

Will the new one-off grants and existing financial support be enough to help your business through the third lockdown? Some operators have said on Twitter they fear they will not.

10.29 - Pubs close takeaway alcohol operations

Pubs have told their customers they are closing their takeaway and click-and-collect services.

Government rules for the third lockdown state: "Hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs; with the exception of providing food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect and drive-through.

"All food and drink (including alcohol) can continue to be provided by delivery."

The MA​ is seeking to clarify what the exact rules around delivery of alcohol are.

10.16 - Grants 'sticking plaster for immediate ills'

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has responded to the news of further support for the hospitality sector.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced one-off grants for pubs (image by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street)
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced one-off grants for pubs (image by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street)

She said: “This is obviously a very positive step to keep businesses afloat in the immediate term and, for that reason, must be welcomed. The Chancellor has rightly recognised the costs imposed on hospitality businesses by enforced closures and the need for additional support. It is also encouraging that the discretionary grants address the suffering in the supply chains upon which our sector is reliant."

Nicholls added: “However, while this announcement is most welcome, make no mistake that this is only a sticking plaster for immediate ills – it is not enough to even cover the costs of many businesses and certainly will not underpin longer-term business viability for our sector."

UKHospitality has called for an extension to the business rates holiday and to the 5% VAT rate.

“On its own, today’s support is not enough," Nicholls said. "Businesses need a longer-term economic plan and it would befit the crisis that we face if the Chancellor brought forward his Budget to make the announcements necessary to reassure businesses and allow them to plan their survival. Commercial certainty cannot come soon enough and only the Chancellor can deliver it.”

09.32 - One-off grants for pubs announced

Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will receive a one-off grant up to £9,000, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced today.

Who-is-responsible-for-social-distancing-at-pubs_wrbm_large

The funding will be for businesses across the UK nations and worth £4bn, the Treasury outlined.

Businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under can receive £4,000; those with a value between £15,000 and £51,000 can receive £6,000 and those with a value of more than £51,000 can receive £9,000.

This comes in addition to the furlough scheme and Local Restriction Support Grants worth up to £3,000 a month.

There will also be a £594m discretionary fund made available to support other impacted businesses.

More to follow...

Tuesday 5 January, 09.22 - New lockdown declared with click and collect limits 

A tough lockdown will begin tomorrow (Wednesday 6 January), Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced.

london-1018629_1280

English residents will be told to stay at home under tougher measures, which include the closure of schools, Johnson outlined in a televised address from Downing Street.

This will last until at least mid-February. 

What's more, the new rules mean hospitality venues will no longer be allowed to offer click and collect sales of alcohol.

Hospitality venues can provide food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway and click-and-collect until 11pm, a document on the Government website states.

It states: "All food and drink (including alcohol) can continue to be provided by delivery."

The Morning Advertiser​ is seeking to clarify the exact rules around the delivery of alcohol. 

15.50 - MPs to 'consider public health regulations'

MPs will discuss coronavirus measures in a recalled House of Commons on Wednesday 6 January.

15.22 - Prime Minister to hold press briefing

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will address the public later and outline further coronavirus measures for England at 8pm.

He is expected to address growing calls for a national lockdown and school closures.

14.23 - Sturgeon orders Scots to stay at home

A stay at home order has been outlined by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, with Scots facing a new lockdown for the entirety of January.

Sturgeon said: "It is no exaggeration to say that I am more concerned about the situation we face now than I have been at any time since March last year." 

Most pupils will not return to school this month.

13.27 - 'No question' tougher measures needed, Prime Minister says

Boris Johnson has told reporters further measures will be announced shortly amid growing coronavirus rates.

He said: "If you look at the numbers there's no question we will have to take tougher measures and we will be announcing those in due course."

11.54 - 'Pubs need urgent financial support now'

British Institute of Innkeeping CEO Steve Alton has added to the calls for additional financial support for the sector.

My Post (81)

He said: “For the vast majority of our pubs in tier three 3 and four, they are already experiencing the financial impact of a full lockdown, whilst those in Tier 2 have such a decreased footfall in their venues, they continue to be loss making. Whatever decision is made by Government for the health of the nation going forward, these pubs need urgent financial support now.

“Grants in the main, are insufficient for even covering basic running costs including any contribution to the furlough scheme, and many are experiencing huge difficulties in even accessing the support they are entitled to. Local Authorities continue to be very slow in processing and paying out grants.

“Where our pubs are forcibly closed, there must be adequate support from Government to allow them to weather this storm through to the spring. Without it, they will fail, leaving hundreds of thousands unemployed and once viable businesses collapsed. With support, we can and will at the heart of the economic recovery.

“We have seen just how important pubs are to the nation, and once again, they have stepped up to offer their venues as vaccination centres to protect their local communities. We will continue to fight for the financial support needed.”

11.49 -  What are the restrictions across England?

Here is what restrictions look like mapped out across England, at the moment.

Pubs are closed under tier three and four measures.

11.22 - Sector needs 'immediate assurances of support'

The pub sector needs clarity and financial support from the Government, the head of a hospitality trade body has reiterated. 

exit-498428_1280

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The crucial thing is that we get some confirmation of what is in store, either way, and are given immediate assurances of support, so that businesses can plan for survival. 

“If a national lockdown is needed, we need as much time as can conceivably be given and another package of grants to keep businesses alive, alongside an extension of the VAT cut and business rates holiday, which are already urgently needed with or without tighter restrictions.”

10.42 - Operators offer sites for vaccine push 

Several pub operators have offered to turn their sites into coronavirus vaccination hubs.

Analysis of NHS England data by the Sunday Times ​found that 13,000,000 of England’s 56,000,000 population face a postcode lottery and some 118 constituencies have been left without hubs.

BrewDog co-founder James Watt appealed to health secretary Matt Hancock and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Twitter.

Watt said: “We would like to offer our closed BrewDog venues to help with a quick roll out of the vaccine. For free.

“We have waiting areas, huge refrigerators, separate rooms for vaccinations and an ace team who can help organised. We want to help.”

The First Minister said she would pass the request on.

Monday 4 January, 10.03 – Tighter lockdown rules on the horizon 

It is expected that tier three areas will soon be moved into tier four, meaning the closure of non-essential retail.

bar-413709_1280 (1)

Health secretary Hancock was asked by BBC Radio 4's Today programme if the Government would act quickly to curb rising infection rates.

He said: “We look at the data on a daily basis, and we can see at the moment there are significant rises, especially in the areas that are still in tier three. But I also come back to this broader point, that it’s on all of us. The thing that stops the spread of the disease is people not coming into contact with other people. That is the sad truth of it.”

Hancock said: “We have moved incredibly fast to take action when necessary, including on Boxing Day, so we don’t shy away from decisions, difficult as they are. “We have shown that we’re prepared to move incredibly quickly, within 24 hours if we think that is necessary. And we keep these things under review all the time.”

What's more, First Minister for Scotland Nicola Sturgeon is expected to announce additional restrictions for the country this afternoon.

Pubs are closed under tier three and four restrictions​ - with nowhere in England left under tier two measures.

With pubs closed everywhere except the Isles of Scilly​ in tier one, operators are asking for more financial support and clarity over the easing of restrictions.

Related topics: Legislation

Related news

Show more

Spotlight

Follow us

Pub Trade Guides

View more

The MA Lock In Podcast

Join us for a Lock In

FREE EMAIL NEWSLETTER

Subscribe to The Morning Advertiser

The definitive voice for the pub trade

Get the latest news, analysis and insights from the uk pub sector straight to your inbox!