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• LIVE: MPs demand roadmap out of restrictions

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Nic 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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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"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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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