Laws giving councils power to close pubs subtly extended

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Legal extension: the law is now set to expire in July
Legal extension: the law is now set to expire in July

Related tags Legal Legislation Council Government

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.

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.

The Government previously stated it would look to review lockdown measures in the middle of next month (February).

No confirmed date

This comes after The Morning Advertiser​ reported the Government has not indicated when hospitality will reopen​ once lockdown restrictions begin to ease.

A senior Government Minister last week (Thursday 21 January) told The 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 was 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 in a bid to better understand how previous restrictions impacted the on-trade when the tiers first came into force.

Previously, trade body UKHospitality (UKH) stated the rumoured closure of pubs until May was “simply unviable”​.

Businesses won't survive

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.”

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? 

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