Closing pubs until May ‘simply unviable’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

More support: the rumoured reopening date of May will mean pubs need further financial aid from the Government, trade bodies have stated
More support: the rumoured reopening date of May will mean pubs need further financial aid from the Government, trade bodies have stated

Related tags: ukhospitality, British beer & pub association, Kate nicholls, Emma McClarkin, Legislation

The rumoured closure of pubs until May has been 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 TheSunday 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.

UKH boss Nicholls tweeted: “If pubs, bars and restaurants are not able to open until May then they will have actually been closed for seven months.

“With one in five running out of cash by March, even with Government support, that is simply unviable.”

Social and economic recovery

Nicholls added: “If pubs are going to be closed until May, whether that’s entirely closed or operating under restrictions, then there is going to need to be more in the way of financial support. Otherwise, some businesses are not going to survive until May to reopen.”

British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Emma McClarkin said she hoped the speculation was not true.

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

“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? 

“UK pubs will be screaming ‘mayday’ long before a May reopening without significantly more financial support from Government."

Safe opening

McClarkin said the rumours were 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," the BBPA boss said. "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.  

“In the more immediate future this means an extension to the Chancellor’s latest grant support package and not just for pubs, but also breweries. In the longer term it means extensions to the business rates holiday and VAT cut, as well as a beer duty cut throughout 2021 and beyond.  

“Without such support, local pubs in communities across the country will be lost forever. We hope though that we can open safely and serve our customers and communities as soon as possible.”

Related topics: Legislation

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