Opening pubs with alcohol ban is ‘not reopening at all’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Booze ban: allowing pubs to reopen but prohibiting the sale of alcohol to be consumed on site is reportedly something minister are considering
Booze ban: allowing pubs to reopen but prohibiting the sale of alcohol to be consumed on site is reportedly something minister are considering

Related tags Alcohol Beer ukhospitality Kate nicholls British beer & pub association Emma McClarkin Society of independent brewers Legislation Government

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.

The Telegraph​reported a temporary “booze ban” was being considering by the Government as part of its roadmap, which is set to be revealed on 22 February.

It claimed the ban was being considered in a bid to ease concerns from chief medical office Chris Whitty alongside others about the impact of drinking alcohol on social distancing.

According to The Sun,​ this will mean pubs can serve takeaway alcohol in April, a move that is currently prohibited, before being able to reopen in full in May with large groups having to remain in outside areas.

Trade bodies took to social media to voice their frustrations and the possibility of the booze ban and the impact it will have on venues.

UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls tweeted: “Reopening in name only inflicts irreparable damage on hospitality as we saw October to December with restrictions with little meaningful impact on health or harm, pushing revenues as low as 20% to 30%. Unsustainable for restaurants and pubs.”

She outlined the lengths operators had gone to in order to safely reopen last summer and how few cases of coronavirus came from the industry.

Firm starting point

Nicholls also tweeted: “Hospitality reopening in July with toughest Covid protocols in the world – risk assessed with controls on capacity, managed social distancing, hygiene and ventilation.

“It kept people safe, 60 visits a week, no increase in cases and less than 1% of staff caught Covid – it’s the model.

“But let’s be clear, operating under those controls, our hospitality and tourism businesses did not breakeven.

“So they need to be the firm starting point and we should look to progressively ease them to allow businesses to survive, recover, rebuild and help re-imagine communities.

“That’s why hospitality will need longer term support as it trades its way out of and through this. Extend lower rate of VAT and business rates holiday will help us do that and get the economy back on its feed more quicky, deliver jobs, growth and investment at pace, in all regions.”

Safe trade

On the rumoured reopening of pubs but banning them from serving alcohol, Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) boss James Calder tweeted his thoughts.

“No evidence of chaotic scenes," he said. "All evidence points towards hospitality being safe. No consultation with me or other industry leaders. Alcohol not an elephant in the room.”

British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Emma McClarkin hailed the reports suggesting the substantial meal rule could be scrapped when reopening and also had her say on the speculative headlines around banning alcohol sales.

She tweeted: “Opening pubs without selling alcohol is not ‘reopening’ pubs at all. Selling alcohol in a safe environment is at the core of what we do.

“Despite our business model being stripped bare, the very core of what we do is now under attack. This has to stop.”

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