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.
It is likely a tier system will be reinstated once lockdown lifts, placing pubs and bars into restrictions again, but there is no clarity on what that would look like.
However, The MA has been informed the Government is in regular communication with hospitality sector leaders to better understand how previous restrictions impacted the on-trade when the tiers first came into force.
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.
Additional taxpayer support should be heading to pubs in the form of grants – up to £9,000 per business depending on rateable value – however, most pubs have yet to receive these.
If a business has not received a grant, The MA was told such businesses should get in touch with their local authority to alert them to the matter.
Meanwhile, The Morning Advertiser also understands business rates were being looked at by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak.
Government discussions around business rates increased in Autumn last year, and feedback from hospitality, retail and leisure businesses has indicated to the country’s leaders that business rates must work better to protect the high street and other businesses.