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• LIVE: 'No change to the next steps of the roadmap'

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Lockdown live: The Morning Advertiser will bring you the latest coronavirus news for pubs (image: Simon Dawson No 10 Downing Street via Flickr)
Lockdown live: The Morning Advertiser will bring you the latest coronavirus news for pubs (image: Simon Dawson No 10 Downing Street via Flickr)

Related tags: lockdown, Coronavirus, Beer, England, Legislation

The Morning Advertiser will bring you the latest updates and reactions to lockdown news impacting the pub sector.

Monday 22 March, 10.12 - Follow The MA's​ latest live blog

This live blog is now closed. You can keep up to date with the latest coronavirus news impacting the pub sector by reading The MA's​ latest live feed.

13.28 - 'We're ready to carry on pushing for what we believe in'

Industry campaigner Sacha Lord has hit back at plans to change how Government decisions are challenged in the courts.

Judicial reviews allow individuals affected by a decision or a failure to act by a public authority to apply to the courts to rule whether the action was lawful or not.

The Government issued an independent review into the process, with proposed reforms to introduce a criteria to "clearly delineate" which issues courts could rule on.

Trade figures Sacha Lord and Hugh Osmond are planning to take the Government to court over its reopening date for indoor hospitality.

Lord said his legal team were ready to "carry on pushing for what we believe in."

11.38 - JDW sees £46m loss in half year results

Pub giant JD Wetherspoon (JDW) has reported a £46.2m loss in revenue for the 26 weeks ending 24 January 2021, in its preliminary results.

The almost 900-strong operator saw revenue slide by half (53.8%) to £431.1m compared to £933m in 2020 with like-for-like sales seeing a similar drop (53.9%).

It also reported an operating loss before exceptional items of £20.7m, which followed a profit of £76.6m in 2020.

JDW chairman Tim Martin criticised restrictions the Government has placed on pubs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

10.36 - Young’s forecasts positive cash flow by May

Young’s has announced plans to reopen 140 of its managed pubs with outdoor spaces on or around 12 April, as well as an update to its finances which it gives it available borrowing facilities of £225m.

Assuming the Government roadmap timetable is followed, Young’s said the rest of its managed estate should open on or around 17 May, with restricted indoor trading.

If normal trading conditions resume from 21 June, the company said it expects to deliver a positive cash flow in May.

Young’s said it would not be paying a dividend for 2020/2021, but would aim to resume the payments, “as is appropriate, although no decision has been made when that will be”.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

Friday 19 March, 09.18 - 'No change to the next steps of the roadmap' despite vaccine supply concerns

The Prime Minister sought to reassure the public about the country's vaccination rollout at a press briefing last night (Thursday 18 March).

Lockdown live: the Prime Minister has sought to reassure the public about the vaccine rollout (image: Simon Dawson No 10 Downing Street via Flickr)
Lockdown live: the Prime Minister has sought to reassure the public about the vaccine rollout (image: Simon Dawson No 10 Downing Street via Flickr)

Although there is expected to be a reduction in the country's coronavirus vaccine supply next month (April), Boris Johnson said the country was still on track to reopen pubs.

The NHS will be able to offer a first dose to every adult by 31 July still and so there will be "no change to the next steps of the roadmap," the PM said.

Johnson said: "We’ve now vaccinated over 25m across our entire United Kingdom – more than the entire population of many countries and our progress along the road to freedom continues unchecked.

"We remain on track to reclaim the things we love, to see our families and friends again, to return to our local pubs, our gyms and sports facilities, and of course our shops, all as long as the data continue to go in the right direction and we meet our four tests."

The country must meet four tests to progress to the next stage of the Government's 'unlocking' plan. Reopening will be officially confirmed one week prior to the earmarked dates in the roadmap, meaning pubs will not receive confirmation on outdoor reopening until Monday 5 April, at the earliest.

The four tests are:

  • The vaccine deployment continues successfully
  • Evidence showing vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations
  • Assessment of risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants

15.27 - BII offers reopening guidance 

The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has updated its support guides section.

13.54 - Prime Minister to lead press briefing 

Boris Johnson will make a televised statement later this afternoon.

It is expected he will address concerns about the UK's vaccine supply.

12.17 - 'No clear justification' for pub reopening date

Here's more on the Lord and Osmond legal challenge. 

11.28 - Local authorities to pay grants from 1 April

Guidance on Restart grants​ has been issued to local authorities by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

The guidance states it is "expected" local authorities will provide pubs with the funding "as soon as possible from 1 April 2021," the date councils will be given the extra cash.

The application closure date for the scheme is 30 June 2021 and final payments must be made by 31 July 2021, the guidance also declares.

Pubs will be eligible for different grant sums depending on their rateable value.

Those with a rateable value of exactly £15,000 or under will be eligible for £8,000 while those with a value over £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive £12,000.

Businesses with a rateable value of exactly £51,000 or over will receive a grant of £18,000.

Operators have previously reported frustrating delays with the payment of lockdown grants.

09.54 - Government has 'failed to provide evidence for reopening stages'

Sacha Lord and Hugh Osmond will take the Government to court over its phased reopening of hospitality.

The duo wrote to the Government on 12 March demanding “evidence or justification for the prioritisation of non-essential retail over hospitality' by Wednesday 17 March.

The Government failed to declare any new evidence to justify reopening indoor hospitality five weeks after non-essential retail, Lord said.

The case will now move to the High Court for Judicial Review. 

Lord added: "This is not a hospitality versus retail argument, but Government decisions must operate on a level playing field and be supported by evidence. We currently see no clear justification for the delay." 

Thursday 18 March, 09.10 - Will the vaccine supply drop push back pubs reopening?

There is expected to be a reduction in the country's coronavirus vaccine supply next month (April), it has been reported.

In a letter to local health organisations, NHS England warned of a reduction in supply from 29 March.

The Department of Health insisted it was still on track to offer a first dose to all adults by the end of July and ministers have sought to reassure the public this morning.

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick told BBC Breakfast​ earlier that the vaccine rollout would be "slightly slower than we might have hoped but not slower than the target we had set ourselves" of offering a first dose to all people aged over 50 by 15 April, and all adults by 31 July.

What's more, a health source told the POLITICO London Playbook:​ “Despite the noise, we remain on track to hit our mid-April and end of July targets. We have always said supply can fluctuate — we are seeing big numbers this week and today we announced that over 25 million people have received their first dose and protection from the virus.”

The source said the incident would not slow down the roadmap out of lockdown as it was expected vaccine targets would still be hit.

However, several newspapers have quoted comments from a scientist who predicted months of "ripple effects" from the four-week drop. 

Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor at the University of Reading, said: "It will undoubtedly make the meeting of the target dates for lifting restrictions more difficult than they otherwise would have been.

"By pushing back the under-50s first doses, their second doses are also being pushed back.

"If full vaccination becomes required for holidays abroad or even more mundane things like going to the cinema, millions of younger people may end up being excluded from participating for the whole summer."

15.45 - Demand for trade charity services trebled in 2020

The number of people seeking support from the Licensed Trade Charity more than trebled during the past year as the pandemic took its toll on those working in the sector.

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The Licensed Trade Charity (LTC) saw a 218% increase in those asking for help in 2020, compared to the previous year.

There was a 127% increase in calls to the charity’s free helpline, with some 41% of callers asking for mental health support.

Many of those in the trade came to the charity desperate for financial support, with a high number turning to gambling, the charity said. The LTC almost doubled the amount of money provided to applicants in support grants.

14.38 - What does the Lord and Osmond action argue?

Here is a breakdown of the arguments made by Sacha Lord and Hugh Osmond, who have pushed back on the Government's reopening roadmap.

  • Hospitality is “significantly safer” than non-essential retail.
  • Hospitality venues are easier than non-essential retail to keep safe. 
  • Hospitality is essential for local communities and mental health.
  • There is no evidence hospitality is unsafe.
  • Economic benefits of hospitality compared with non-essential retail.
  • The decision hits the young and those from BAME backgrounds.
  • There is no evidence linking hospitality venues to Covid transmission.
  • Hospitality can’t operate online.

12.00 - Review alcohol rules and curfews, Scottish Government urged

Pubs in Scotland have been served a “bitter blow” after it was announced they can reopen from the end of April but cannot serve alcohol indoors.

Pubs can reopen outdoors from 26 April with restrictions but cannot serve alcohol indoors until 17 May, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced.

While this was good news for venues able to serve people outdoors, for many operators the news was “yet another bitter blow,” according to the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA)’s Colin Wilkinson.

Many operators would be "bitterly disappointed" as reopening would be unviable for the majority of businesses, Wilkinson said.

Pubs will be able to operate until 10.30pm indoors and serve alcohol, with a curfew of 10pm for outdoor trade, from 17 May, with trade bodies welcoming the clarity.

10.59 - Lockdown roadmap policies are 'incredibly worrying' - SIBA boss 

Society of Independent Brewers boss James Calder has said it is worrying that alcohol restrictions and curfews have become "normalised and commonplace".

This follows the announcement of Scotland's lockdown roadmap yesterday, which will see pubs subject to tough rules on serving alcohol and enforced closing times.

10.03 - Government on deadline to provide evidence for reopening date

The Government has until the end of today to respond to a letter by Greater Manchester night czar Sacha Lord and Punch founder Hugh Osmond, over the evidence-base for hospitality's reopening dates.

The duo wrote to the Prime Minister over his "plainly irrational" approach​ to reopen indoor hospitality five weeks after non-essential retail.

Judicial review proceedings would be issued if the Government did not consult SAGE on "whether it is justifiable to prevent the hospitality industry opening whilst, at the same time, allowing non-essential shops to open (when the risk of transmission is plainly higher in non-essential shops).”

Lord took the Government to court over its 'substantial meal' requirement during the regional tiered system, where the judge ruled this policy was arguably discriminatory against BAME communities.

It is hoped a similar ruling will be achieved in fresh legal action over the phased reopening of pubs. Pubs will reopen outdoors from 12 April and indoors, not before 17 May, which Lord said discriminates against those hit hardest by the pandemic. 

Wednesday 17 March, 09.22 - Pubs to lose £54m in St Patrick's Day pints, BBPA estimates

The loss of beer sales from St Patrick’s Day (today) will result in pubs and bars losing out on £54m, according to the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).

Lockdown live: pubs will miss out on the sale of some 14 million pints today, on St Patrick's Day (image: Delpixart, Getty Images)
Lockdown live: pubs will miss out on the sale of some 14 million pints today, on St Patrick's Day (image: Delpixart, Getty Images)

BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said punters would miss out on the annual "joyous occasion" of enjoying a cold pint at their local.

She added: “It’s a real disappointment for our pubs too, who will miss out on what would’ve been a big boost to their trade and at a much-needed time too. Instead, they will miss out on selling some 14m pints. That’s £54m in trade that would have been warmly welcomed by them."

Pubs cannot sell takeaway alcohol under the rules of England's lockdown, which McClarkin called a "great shame."

"It is abundantly clear that the Government must ensure all our pubs are fully reopened on 21 June as indicated in the roadmap," she added. "We urgently need to get the pub reopen and operating without restrictions so the recovery can truly begin.”

16.26 - New grant support for Scottish pubs

Grants of up to £19,500 for hospitality businesses will be paid in April to help venues rebuild, Nicola Sturgeon announced.

One-off restart grants will replace existing Strategic Framework Business Fund (SFBF) payments however eligible businesses must have applied to the SFBF by 22 March to receive the new grants.

The last four-weekly SFBF payment of up to £3,000 will be paid on 22 March, as scheduled. 

UKHospitality Scotland executive director Willie Macleod said the body hoped to see "further detail" on the grants announced today. 

"They support must find its way quickly to businesses that need it most," he added.

15.52 - 'Broader approach' needed to tackle sexual harassment and assault 

Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) CEO Michael Kill has said "too many women" still feel vulnerable when going out at night.

10pm curfew

He said: "Continued efforts to protect women and vulnerable people must be tackled together as a society. This requires a broader approach, working in collaboration with other businesses, town centres, local authorities, and the wider community within which they serve.” “Sexual harassment is dealt with very seriously and there is zero tolerance for inappropriate conduct within our sector."Kill welcomed the announcement of extra funding for safer streets and said plans for police patrols were "well intentioned" but said "this additional resource would be better utilised dealing with the broader societal issues rather than focussing on licensed environments that are already highly regulated.”He highlighted venue measures such as duty of care protocols and welfare policies, as well as national campaigns like Ask for Angela and local initiatives like 'street angels'.
 Kill added: “With so many initiatives in place, we must get to the root of why many still feel unsafe on our streets - and why these initiatives are needed in the first place. As an industry, we need to raise awareness for our customers to make sure they are aware of the support available and know they are being protected.”

15.13 - Reopening dates for Scottish venues

From 26 April, all parts of mainland Scotland will be moved into level three measures, meaning pubs can reopen outdoors under modified restrictions.

Scotland: pubs have been given a reopening date (image: Snowshill, Getty Images)
Scotland: pubs have been given a reopening date (image: Snowshill, Getty Images)

Pubs can serve groups of up to six people from up to three households until 10pm. There will be no requirement to serve food with alcohol. 

It is hoped there will also be a "limited" reopening of indoor service, with just food and non-alcoholic drinks allowed.

Venues can serve groups of four from no more than two households until 8pm and must take contact details from customers.

Sturgeon said she did not expect any further changes until 17 May when it was hoped many level three areas would be able to move to level two.

14.13 - Bar staff do not need 'spies on the dancefloor'

Venue safety project Good Night Out Campaign has criticised Government plans to pilot patrols of undercover police officers around pubs and clubs.

The group said: "People already find it hard to report concerns to clearly identifiable staff and security because of fear of not being believed. The government must listen to the experts in nightlife safety and the women’s sector on the drivers of gendered violence and how to tackle this.

"Real cultural change comes through workplace training, policies, publicity, customer education and community building. ⁣⁠⁠

"The nightlife economy and its workers have been hard hit in the pandemic. They need resources and support to deal with industry challenges including sexual harassment, not spies on the dancefloor.⁠⁠"

12.16 - Sector demands evidence for reopening after shops

Night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord has said there is "clear, solid evidence" that pubs should be able to reopen for indoor trade at the same time as non-essential retail.

Lord has launched a legal challenge to hospitality's reopening date.

Almost half (51%) of hospitality operators believe the Government should consider a review of the roadmap and accelerate it, if appropriate, an industry survey has revealed.

The Hospitality Leaders Poll, conducted by Lumina Intelligence, on behalf of The Morning Advertiser​, MCA​, Big Hospitality ​and Restaurant​, included 172 operators, of which, a third (34%) stated it was too dangerous to reopen earlier, 12% were keen to reopen now and 3% were unsure.

Government scientists said it was very unlikely the country would be in a position to ease lockdown measures earlier than intended​, as younger citizens have yet to be vaccinated. 

11.49 - 'We don't need this intrusion'

The Government has announced "immediate steps" to improve women's safety, including a pilot scheme involving plain clothes police officers patrolling clubs and bars to identify predatory behaviour.

Oakman Inns founder Peter Borg-Neal has lambasted the measure and called it a "pathetic attempt" to deflect blame.

The Government endangered women with its 10pm curfew policy last year with some pubs breaking the rules to help them feel safer, the operator added.

However, the measures - including an additional £25m for lighting and CCTV - have been welcomed by UKHospitality (UKH) boss Kate Nicholls.

The sector has already worked "incredibly hard" to prioritise safety for guests on nights-out, she said.

She explained: “We have numerous partnership schemes in place to ensure the safety of customers on a night out. Schemes like Best Bar None, Pub Watch, Drinkaware and Ask for Angela have been adopted by the sector to ensure that safety is central to the running of businesses. 

"UKH is a signatory to the Women’s Night Safety Charter and we engage regularly with the Mayor of London’s Office to make sure that nights out are fun and safe. The welfare of our customers and our staff is a priority."

Nicholls continued: “That does not mean we can relax our efforts. We must continue to work hard to provide safe environments and we will regularly review our practices to see how we can be even more effective.”

A Metropolitan police officer has been charged with the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard, who disappeared after walking home from a friend's house in South London on 3 March.

10.42 - Coronavirus has cost pubs 2.1bn pints, £8.2bn in trade and forced 2,000 closures

Some 2,000 pubs have been lost forever, 2.1bn pints in beer sales and £8.2bn in trade has been wiped out as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, one trade body has estimated.

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The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) stated while it welcomed continued support for the sector in the Budget, which included £2bn worth of measures such as grants and furlough support, it called for longer-term investment in the industry was still needed.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

Tuesday 16 March, 09.21 - Scotland to set out lockdown review 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will set out more details on how Scotland is to leave lockdown over the coming weeks. 

Lockdown live: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is to set out how measures will be eased in Scotland this afternoon (image: surangaw, Getty Images)
Lockdown live: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is to set out how measures will be eased in Scotland this afternoon (image: surangaw, Getty Images)

The Scottish Government has said the country will return to its levelled approach, where areas with high virus incidence are subject to tougher rules.

However, it suggested the specific rules for each level could change.

This is the hope of Scottish trade bodies, who implored the Government to consider their proposed new system yesterday (Monday 15 March).

Previously, pubs under level three could only open to serve food and were forced to close at 6pm, making trade unviable for many operators.

Operators are also hoping to hear a provisional reopening date this afternoon, with Sturgeon to outline the timetable at around 2pm this afternoon.

16.08 - Pilot events will test nightclub return

Pilot events will help prepare the country's nightclubs to return, with several of the Government-organised pilots planned for Liverpool.

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The news has been welcomed by the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA).

NTIA CEO Michael Kill said: "We continue to work closely with Government Departments on this project, ensuring that some of the hardest hit businesses are represented, with a focus on creating safe environments for people to socialise, with measures which are logistically achievable and viable within the current environments” 

“Much of the work being done within the research is around customer behaviour, testing and mitigating measures including ventilation."

Attendees will be tested ahead of an event and be tested following to monitor any virus transmission.

Venues to take part in the pilot scheme in Liverpool are to include a nightclub, comedy club and business events venue, according to the Liverpool Echo​ newspaper.

15.17 - Allow all Scottish pubs to serve alcohol after lockdown, sector urges

Scottish trade associations have called on the Government to change its levels system for hospitality and allow all pubs to serve alcohol.

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The united call comes from the Scottish Hospitality Group, UK Hospitality Scotland, Scottish Licensed Trade Association, Night Time Industries Association and the Scottish Beer & Pub Association.

It was not viable for the sector to reopen with pre-lockdown rules as set out in the Scottish Government’s Strategic Framework, they said.

Under level three measures, no alcohol sales are permitted indoors or outdoors and pubs must close at 6pm with last entry at 5pm.

14.26 - Star tenants to pay full rent from June

Star Pubs & Bars licensees on core leased and tenanted agreements in England will have to start paying rent in full from 21 June, following a period of discounted rates, the pubco has announced.

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The company has extended its 90% rent concessions, which were due to end on 1 March, to 16 May, leaving 10% payable by licensees.

From 17 May (when pubs are able to reopen inside with restrictions in place if the Government’s roadmap is successful) until 20 June, the discount will be reduced to 10% in rent concessions, leaving 90% payable by licensees.

Star estimated the combination of these rent discounts means about half (50%) of rent will be due for the month of May.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

13.00 - 'And pubs still can't open inside for 63 days?'

Chief executive of Camerons Brewery Chris Soley has joined voices on social media questioning the reopening date for indoor trade.

In recent days, Government scientists have rebuked calls for any easing of lockdown rules prior to those in the Government's roadmap.

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty told the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee that it was a "highly unlikely situation" the country would be able to ease restrictions earlier than intended, despite positive progress with the vaccination rollout.

"It is highly doubtful that we are going to be in a position where we say the data looks so fantastically better please take more risks here," he said.

Whitty told MPs: "Under all scenarios, if we unlock very suddenly or even significantly faster than is recommended, all the modelling would suggest that we would get a substantial surge while  a lot of people are not protected."

12.04 - 'We are more than grateful to be operating again'

Hospitality venues in Jersey were allowed to reopen on 22 February. The Morning Advertiser​ caught up with one operator to find out what trade has been like since.

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Patrycja Bosak is the general manager at the Trinity Arms and said the pub "feel so privileged to have our customers return in confidence knowing that we are doing all we can in keeping them safe."

She explained: “Seasonal changes have had the biggest impact. Our last reopening in Jersey was 16 June where we had full use of our great alfresco area.   

“With the current opening in the late winter months we can only really offer our internal space. This does limit us and our customers, but we are more than grateful to be operating again in a safe and secure environment.” 

11.40 - Opening date legal challenge 'about fairness' 

Night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord has said his fresh legal challenge to the Government's roadmap is "not about hospitality vs non-essential retail."

Speaking on Sky News, Lord said the legal challenge to hospitality's phased reopening was "just about fairness."

He compared the situation to the substantial meal policy and 10pm curfew."How many times has the Government made the wrong decision for hospitality," Lord said.

"We want to open at exactly the same time as non-essential retail.

"We have spent tens of millions of pounds creating these safe, secure Covid environments and we believe we have much safer measures in place than non-essential retail."

10.54 - 'Make decisions based on data, not dates'

UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls has urged the Government to review its lockdown roadmap, following the instigation of legal action against the Government by Hugh Osmond and Sacha Lord.

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The vaccine roll out has given the trade association hope that the Government will be able to remove all legal restrictions on social contact "for good" from 21 June, Nicholls said.

There are less than 100 days to go until the earliest date for the final stage of the Government's 'unlocking' roadmap.

She added: "While any restrictions remain in place, our pubs and restaurants can only break even and the viability of thousands remains at risk – we lost over 12,000 in the last year alone.

“That is why we urge the Government to review the roadmap and look to remove or reduce restrictions on trading – table service, online or takeaway only, no standing outdoors – at the earliest possible opportunity.

"It may also be possible to allow some limited indoor operations to resume at an earlier date. While we understand the need for caution, we would urge the Government to review the roadmap again and make decisions based on data, not dates."

Monday 15 March, 09.35 - 'Plainly irrational' to reopen shops before pubs, Punch founder says

Night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord and Punch founder Hugh Osmond have written to the Prime Minister notifying him they intended to legally challenge the Government's roadmap.

The duo believe that it is unfair for indoor hospitality to wait five weeks after non-essential retail reopens.

Non-essential retail and outdoor hospitality may be able to open on 12 April, while indoor hospitality must wait until the next stage of the lockdown exit-strategy, from 17 May at the earliest.

Writing in TheDaily Mail​, Osmond said: "Not only does this long delay needlessly squander the benefits of the fast vaccination rollout, it is plainly irrational, unscientific and not based on evidence."

In the letter to Boris Johnson, the pair claim there is no evidence to prioritise reopening shops over hospitality and said they were considering "further the potentially indirectly discriminatory effect” on young people and those from BAME backgrounds working in the sector.

16.30 - How have the 12 months since Boris first closed pubs affected your business?

The Morning Advertiser​ has launched a survey to reflect on the year since Boris Johnson called last orders on pubs for the first time amid the Covid pandemic.

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16.20 - When will pubs reopen in Wales?

The First Minister did give some indication of when pubs could be likely to reopen at a press briefing earlier.

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“As we look ahead to the end of April,” Mark Drakeford said, “if we continue to see an improving public health picture we will be able to consider what more we can do to support people to meet each other and what we can do to continue reopening our economy, for example looking at outdoor hospitality, the wedding sector and leisure and gyms.”

14.07 - 'Take advantage of the support on offer'

With one month until some pubs can reopen, many operators are getting ready.

The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII), British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) and UKHospitality (UKH) have urged operators to consult their resources.

While the Government has yet to confirm in legislation reopening rules, it has said table service and social distancing will continue to be required.

What’s more, the trio of trade bodies said their guidance is based on their own conversations with the Government.

12.29 - No reopening date for pubs just yet, First Minister says

Drakeford said there were no guarantees in the pandemic and would not provide a reopening date for hospitality in Wales.

However, he suggested that outdoor hospitality would be allowed to reopen before indoor service. The Welsh Government will look at this if the public health situation continues to improve in the coming weeks.

The Kent variant is a huge concern for policymakers, Drakeford said.

12.27 - Grants between £4-5k announced for Welsh pubs

Drakeford has said a further £150m funding will be made available to top-up non domestic rates grants.

This means hospitality businesses closed will be eligible for a third payment between £4,000-5,000 to meet ongoing costs.

This is in addition to business rates holiday extension for whole of next financial year.

The Welsh Government has gone "over and above" the support available from UK Government schemes, making it the "most generous" business support scheme in the UK, Drakeford said.

12.23 - Welsh lockdown will be eased in 'careful and cautious' approach

First Minister for Wales Mark Drakeford has said the country's lockdown will be eased gradually, with a "careful and cautious" phased approach.

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He is setting out the country's route out of lockdown at a briefing now.

Non-essential retail will begin to reopen from 22 March and all shops will be able to reopen from 12 April.

Drakeford said if the public health situation continues to improve self contained accommodation will reopen from 27 March.

11.42 - Allow takeaway pints from next roadmap stage, MPs urge

MPs have backed a campaign calling for the takeaway alcohol ban to be lifted ahead of beer gardens reopening next month (April).

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As it stands, pubs cannot sell alcohol to takeaway or to click-and-collect under lockdown laws in England.

The ban will be lifted 12 April, when beer gardens can reopen, which pub operators have said is unfair as individuals can freely buy alcohol from supermarkets.

The Countryside Alliance’s #UnlockInn​ campaign calls on the Government to allow takeaway pints ahead of outdoor meetings between different households from 29 March.

The Alliance has been joined by MPs Greg Smith and Robert Syms, who argue the move would “kick start the hospitality comeback early.” 

10.40 - 'One month to go'

Pubs have been celebrating the one month countdown to beer gardens reopening on social media.

As per the Government's roadmap out of lockdown, 12 April is the earmarked date, however this will be confirmed a week prior and depend on the country's progress battling the virus.

Friday 12 March, 10.05 - Spending will return after reopening, Chancellor says

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said he is confident that spending in hospitality will return when venues are allowed to reopen in the coming weeks.

Lockdown live: Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said spending will bounce back (image: Pippa Fowles, No 10 Downing Street via Flickr)
Lockdown live: Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said spending will bounce back (image: Pippa Fowles, No 10 Downing Street via Flickr)

Speaking at a Treasury Committee evidence session on the Budget, the Chancellor said: "There was an enormous worry that when things reopened last year that people wouldn’t have the confidence to spend even though they had the income to.

“This time around, both in the UK and internationally, we’ve seen that you do tend to get quite a strong consumption automatically.”

UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls took to social media to once more urge for a "swift, sustainable reopening" with coronavirus restrictions ending on 21 June, the final stage of the Government's roadmap out of lockdown.

The Chancellor's comments come as some operators and trade figures have warned of a long recovery for the sector, with many licensees concerned about long-term canges to consumer lifestyle habits such as the decline in office working.

15.16 - Takeaway alcohol ban: what would allowing takeaway pints mean to you?

As it stands, pubs will only be allowed to serve pints to takeaway or for click-and-collect when beer gardens are allowed to reopen, from 12 April at the earliest.

Takeaway pints: how would lifting the ban impact your business? (image: parusnikov, Getty Images)
Takeaway pints: how would lifting the ban impact your business? (image: parusnikov, Getty Images)

Many pub operators have said the ban is unfair, especially as individuals will soon be able to meet up with friends outdoors and drink alcohol from supermarkets.

Two households or up to six people from different households will be able to meet up in parks or private gardens to socialise from 29 March. 

From 8 March, people in England have been able to meet up with one person from another household to socialise in a public outdoor space.

Allowing operators to serve takeaway pints would help them generate some income amid the long closure period, trade figures have said.

13.58 - Operators warned of fines for cocktail deliveries

Pub operators have been warned that they need special permission from HMRC for the off-sale of pre-mixed cocktails.

With takeaway and click-and-collect alcohol sales banned​ during England’s third national lockdown, many businesses have created new revenue streams from delivered drinks.

However, law firm TLT has cautioned businesses to make sure they have the necessary compounder’s licence or face penalties.

Businesses need this licence even if they are mixing cocktails at an on-licensed site, if the sale will be for customers off-site.

A compounder is defined as parties that “combine or mix plain spirits or previously compounded spirits with any other substance, except water, so as to distinctly alter the character or flavour of the plain spirits or compounded spirits, producing a new compounded spirit,” according to HMRC.

11.17 - Council waives pavement licence fee

10.30 - 'Extend commercial eviction ban until September'

UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls has said the ban on commercial evictions should be extended to September.

The ban was extended by a further three months to 30 June, the Government announced yesterday (Wednesday 10 March).

Legal limits on social contact and measures such as table service will remain until the country reaches stage four of the Government's lockdown easing roadmap, from 21 June at the very earliest.

Thursday 11 March, 09.46 - Decisions on hospitality measures have been 'consistently incorrect'

Night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord has told the Telegraph​ newspaper that the Government's reopening roadmap "feels discriminatory" to working class communities.

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He told the newspaper: “On 12 April you can drink outdoors in a beer garden and so many community pubs don’t have those, so it again feels discriminatory. Especially when you think about the city centres, where a lot of the operators have the highest rents. I can’t think of one beer garden in Manchester city centre.” 

The operator recently took on the Government for its 'substantial meal' requirement for pubs in certain areas to serve alcohol, with the judge ruling this to be unlawful on the basis it discriminated against communities who could not afford to dine out.

Now, Lord intends to legally challenge the Government on its decision to permit non-essential retail to reopen ahead of allowing the hospitality trade to reopen for indoor service.

Lord added: "When I had my first meeting with our legal team on the removal of the scotch egg, I was told my chances of a win were between 5 to 10 per cent, so I couldn’t believe it when I won. This time I’ve been told exactly the same again.”

Policymakers have made "consistently incorrect" decisions for the hospitality industry, such as the 10pm curfew, Lord told the paper.

He continued: "And so many times we’ve offered to work with the Government to help them understand how the industry works, but they seem disinterested. On the occasion that we do have meetings it feels very much like a nodding dog exercise."

16.37 - Test and Trace: share your experience 

15.59 - 'Extending moratorium 'sensible and positive step'

Responding to news of the commercial eviction ban being extended for a further three months, UKHospitality (UKH) chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Extending the moratorium is a sensible and positive step by the Government. It was really the only option for businesses that are on the brink of reopening but have piled up so much rent debt over the past year."

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She went on to call for a mutually agreeable solution that works for all parties involved – tenants, landlords and investors.

The UKH boss added: “Tenants have borne the brunt of the pain of closure so far and it is clear that others need to take their share, too. It is integral to the future of the UK’s hospitality sector and high streets across the country, which we hope will drive the economic recovery of the country.

"We hope the Government investigates this avenue of approach. It must also now extend the insolvency moratorium to provide full protection.”

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

14.30 - Commercial evictions ban extended

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has confirmed the ban on commercial evictions will be extended to 30 June.

The requirement for landlords to provide six-month notice periods and a ban on bailiff-enforced evictions will also be extended until 31 May.

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said: "It is right that as we move through the roadmap, we ensure that businesses and renters continue to be supported.  

“We have taken unprecedented action to support both commercial and residential tenants throughout the pandemic – with a £280bn economic package to keep businesses running and people in jobs and able to meet their outgoings, such as rent. 

“These measures build on the Government’s action to provide financial support as restrictions are lifted over the coming months - extending the furlough scheme, business rates holiday and the Universal Credit uplift.” 

14.20 - Test and Trace: share your experience

The Morning Advertiser​ is looking to hear from pub operators on their experience working with the Test and Trace scheme.

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Businesses are required to take customer contact details and must display a QR code for punters to scan on the NHS Test and Trace app.

What has your experience been? Have you been contacted by Test and Trace about a confirmed connection between a coronavirus outbreak and your venue?

13.24 - Wales to set out lockdown review on Friday

The Welsh First Minister will share the results of its review into lockdown restrictions on Friday (12 March).

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Health Minister Vaughan Gething held a briefing today where he said officials were worried about the Kent variant of the virus.

There will be local testing in areas that have reported high rates of community transmission, starting in parts of Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf.

11.17 - 56% of consumers support vaccine passports for pub entry

More than half (56%) of the nation’s adults are in favour of proof of immunity against coronavirus, a YouGov survey has found.

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In fact, this was the second most popular choice for the 1,715 adults who participated in the research to outline which outlets should implement vaccine passport policies. 

Ahead of pubs and bars were care homes (72%) and gyms (also 56%). Cinemas were just behind (55%) as were restaurants (53%).

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

Wednesday 10 March, 09.46 - NHS Test and Trace should review engagement with sector, report recommends 

The NHS contact tracing scheme should review its work with the hospitality sector moving forward, MPs have concluded.

Spending scrutiny: a cross-party committee has recommended NHS Test and Trace review its engagement with hospitality (image: Olivier Le Moal, Getty Images)
Spending scrutiny: a cross-party committee has recommended NHS Test and Trace review its engagement with hospitality (image: Olivier Le Moal, Getty Images)

The recommendation was made by the public accounts committee, which examined the cost-effectiveness of the £22bn Test and Trace scheme. 

It was concluded the scheme "should review how it engages with and draws expertise from the wider public health establishment and other sectors that are especially dependent on its work.

"This should include, but is not limited to, local government, the schools sector and the hospitality industry," the report stated.

It also highlighted efficacy concerns with rapid testing and said the scheme would need to "focus more on engagement and collaboration" with sectors soon to take up testing with lateral flow devices.

Key stakeholders have often felt excluded by the scheme, the watchdog concluded, with local authorities and NHS primary care bodies keen to be "more directly involved."

Businesses were often told or left to contact at-risk individuals themselves, risking data protection breaches, Sky News​ reported earlier this month.

Baroness Dido Harding, head of the National Institute for Health Protection, in charge of the system, said it was "making a real impact in breaking the chains of transmission."

15.47 - 'Rule of four' for Scots

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that rules on outdoor social gatherings will be relaxed from Friday 12 March.

At the moment, just two people from two households can meet up in Scotland. 

Soon, four people from two households will be able to socialise.

What's more, teenagers (12 to 17-year-olds) will be able to socialise in groups of four people from four different households.

14.57 - Reduce tax burden on pubs to boost recovery, think-tank urges

The Government should support the pub sector’s recovery by slashing taxes and providing top-up grant support, a new report has claimed.

Lockdown recovery: a think-tank has urged the Government to issue more support for businesses in deprived areas (image: stanzi11, Getty Images)
Lockdown recovery: a think-tank has urged the Government to issue more support for businesses in deprived areas (image: stanzi11, Getty Images)

Think-tank Localis concluded top-up grants should be used to help pubs in ‘left-behind places’ such as coastal towns or former industrial communities in 2022. 

In the report, titled ‘The Power of Pubs – protecting social infrastructure and laying the groundwork for levelling up’​, the think-tank makes several recommendations on tax.

14.13 - Half of operators say grants still not enough, poll finds

Some 53% of operators in an industry survey stated while the grants of up to £18,000 were welcome, the funding was not enough help given the extended period of closure.

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The Hospitality Leaders Poll, which is conducted by Lumina Intelligence on behalf of The Morning Advertiser​, MCA​, Big Hospitality ​and Restaurant​, found more than a third (38%) of the 139 operators asked said the support would help see them through the current lockdown.

However, 6% stated the funding was ‘too little’ too late’ and 3% were unsure if it would help them through restrictions.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

11.36 - 'Highly doubtful' lockdown will be eased quicker than planned

Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance and Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty have been questioned by the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee.

MPs quizzed the pair on the scientific basis behind the Government’s lockdown easing roadmap.

Whitty said it was a "highly unlikely situation" that the country would be able to ease restrictions earlier than intended, despite positive progress with the vaccination rollout.

He said: "It is highly doubtful that we are going to be in a position where we say the data looks so fantastically better please take more risks here."

Whitty told MPs: "Under all scenarios, if we unlock very suddenly or even significantly faster than is recommended, all the modelling would suggest that we would get a substantial surge while  a lot of people are not protected."

10.56 - Oakman acquires six Seafood sites

Hertfordshire-based multiple operator The Oakman Group has acquired six pubs from the administrators of Seafood Pub Company.

Furthermore, former managing director and founder of Seafood, Joycelyn Neve will also be joining Oakman to head up the new Seafood Pub division, which will initially be based in the north.

The new sites restore 150 jobs and mean Oakman is on track to have 40 venues in its estate by the end of this year.

Oakman Group CE Dermot King said: “I am delighted we have acquired these sites, which will be the foundation stone for the third brand within our group – with the Seafood Pub Joining the Oakman Inns and Beech House brands within our portfolio."

Tuesday 9 March, 09.00 - Reopening measures will 'be in vain' if restrictions continue past 21 June

UKHospitality (UKH) has welcomed an announcement that the Government will extend simplified processes to help pubs to trade outdoors.

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The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government confirmed it would slash red tape surrounding pavement licences and planning permission for marquees.

UKH's Kate Nicholls said: "Thousands of hospitality venues opened last summer, safely serving millions of people and supporting millions of jobs. The extension of this outdoor flexibility, along with the support offered by the Chancellor in his Budget last week, will enable hospitality businesses to do the same this summer as they look to rebuild following a devastating year of lockdowns and trading restrictions."

Many businesses lack outdoor space and will not be able to trade until 17 May at the earliest​, Nicholls added.

She said: “All of these measures however, will be almost entirely in vain if businesses are not able to re-open in full and without restrictions on June 21."

All legal constraints on social contact will be lifted in the fourth stage of the Government's roadmap, with a provisional date of 21 June, depending on the country's progress tackling the virus.

For a full recovery, the hospitality sector needed the Government to address "some glaring omissions" from its support package, Nicholls said.

The Government should review its business rates cap​ and introduce an extension of the rent moratoria​, UKH argued.

15.36 - 'Further certainty to businesses'

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick MP has shared said the extension on temporary provisions for pavement licences will assure businesses.

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He said: "We’re all looking forward to seeing pubs, cafes and restaurants open again as we start to gear up for what should be a great British summer.

"Therefore I’m delighted to announce an extension on temporary provisions for pavement licences for a further 12 months. This will give further certainty to businesses as they recover from the effects of the pandemic.

"As lockdown restrictions ease in the coming months I’m also keen to highlight the range of measures we’ve put in place to help support the safe reopening of hospitality businesses and our high streets.

"It’s vital we work together to do everything we can to help these businesses prosper again. That is why I’ve written to councils calling on their support to use these measures in a pragmatic way to help support the high street, businesses and jobs, once restrictions allow them to do so."

14.38 - 'Ten weeks from today'

11.46 - Trade celebrates International Women's Day

The Morning Advertiser​ has spoken to a range of women working across the pub and brewing sector this International Women's Day (8 March).

11.30 - 'We won't let red tape get in the way of the great British summer'

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has confirmed it will extend provisions to make it easier for pubs to utilise outdoor space.

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick tweeted that previous temporary changes made to licensing laws and planning restrictions for outdoor service would be extended.

10.07 - Get in touch with your thoughts

Monday 8 March, 09.33 - 'Open pubs from 12 April or face legal proceedings'

Night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord has said he may legally challenge the Government on its decision to allow pubs to reopen indoors after non-essential retail.

Operator Sacha Lord has said he is prepared to legally challenge the Government on its roadmap (image: JamieAW, Getty Images)
Operator Sacha Lord has said he is prepared to legally challenge the Government on its roadmap (image: JamieAW, Getty Images)

Lord said his legal team would send the Government a letter of claim, arguing the roadmap has unlawfully prioritised non-essential retail reopening over hospitality, early this week.

The letter invites the Prime Minister to change the policy or face High Court Judicial Review proceedings.

Lord said a full reopening from next month would be safer as it would help limit unsafe social gatherings.

"Throw into the mix the weather," he tweeted.

"Hospitality is licensed and regulated. It is far safer to open up these safe, secure venues, than allow people to buy as much alcohol as possible from the supermarket, without any questions asked. People will mix in gardens/parks."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's lockdown roadmap includes plans to reopen beer gardens from 12 April and indoor service from 17 May​, depending on how well the country does at reducing hospitalisation and death numbers.

16.09 - Scottish Government evidence for pub shutdown 'deeply unconvincing'

The Scottish Government has failed to provide any specific evidence to justify the restrictions it imposed on the hospitality sector when pressed, according to one trade body.

The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to see examples of evidence used to justify pandemic measures on pubs and restaurants.

It said the Scottish Government responded after three months with documents already available in the public domain.

Stephen Montgomery from the SHG said: “After nearly four months we have finally secured the truth that the Government has no specific evidence to justify the restrictions placed on our industry.”

One of the documents provided, Covid-19: Note by the Chief Medical Officer, Chief Nursing Officer and National Clinical Director​ (October 2020), did not provide evidence for its conclusion the reopening of hospitality in July 2020 drove up the R rate, SHG said.

13.35 - Wet pubs served 'cripplingly blow' at Budget

Former leader of the Liberal Democrats and MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale Tim Farron has said more support is needed for wet led pubs, who will not benefit from the extension of the VAT cut on food and soft drinks.

13.10 - Budget ‘does nothing for independent breweries’

Plans outlined in the Chancellor’s Spring Budget, such as the VAT cut extension, will lead to further brewery closures according to one trade body.

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“The Chancellor spent an extraordinary amount of taxpayers money to help keep the economy moving and jobs protected, pledging almost £59bn to policies including furlough extensions, continued business rates cuts, grants for hospitality of up to £9,000 and a series of investment initiatives," Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) chief executive James Calder said.

“While this is helpful to the broad hospitality sector, it does nothing for the nation's struggling independent breweries, who desperately needed direct tax cuts and targeted grant support to help them survive until the economy reopens. What is the point in helping hospitality if there aren’t vibrant, diverse and local beers on offer when the economy re-opens? 

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

11.24 - Government more than trebles State Aid cap

The State Aid cap has been increased to more than £10m, offering larger pub, bar and restaurant firms greater access to Government-backed grants outlined in the Spring Budget.

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According to an announcement by the Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets, Paul Scully MP, on 4 March, the cap on grant support firms are able to claim will increase from £3.5m to £10.9m. 

Reporting by Stuart Stone

10.28 - Revolution to reopen almost a third of sites in April

Nationwide operator Revolution Bars Group has announced plans to reopen 20 sites for outdoor guests in April ahead of the resumption of trade across its full estate a month later.

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Though the group said the reopening dates set out in the Government’s lockdown roadmap were later than hoped for, it revealed that it planned to open 20 sites for outdoor trading on 12 April in keeping with the plan’s conditional dates.

What’s more, the operator added that it would be reopening its full 66-strong stable of bars on 17 May when the resumption of indoor trading under the ‘rule of six’ has been conditionally earmarked. 

Friday 5 March, 09.40 - Should hospitality open later than shops?

More than half (57%) of those surveyed have said that hospitality should open later than non-essential retail, research from Streetbees for The Morning Advertiser has found.

Pubs are to reopen from 17 May at the earliest for indoor service (image: Drazen Zigic, Getty Images)
Pubs are to reopen from 17 May at the earliest for indoor service (image: Drazen Zigic, Getty Images)

One in three (33%) said they felt the two sectors should open at the same time while 5% said pubs and restaurants should be allowed to open sooner (the remaining 5% said they did not know). 

The Government’s roadmap sets out plans to reopen non-essential retail from 12 April, at the earliest, alongside beer gardens.

Full reopening of the hospitality, with indoor service, will be permitted in the next stage of the lockdown easing, from 17 May, at the earliest.

It comes as night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord said he was looking at a potential legal challenge on this decision.

Streetbees also found that 47% of respondents were not confident that the Government’s roadmap would be executed as planned while 30% were not sure.

Some 41% of those surveyed said they would be keen to return to hospitality venues as soon as they open, compared to 33% who were not and 25% unsure.

16.03 - Listen: Budget or bust?

On the latest episode of The Lock In ​podcast, The Morning Advertiser's​ Ed Bedington discusses the Budget with operators Heath Ball and James Cuthbertson.

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They discuss whether the measures announced yesterday (Wednesday 3 March) will help the sector, the Chancellor's comments about pub rents over the weekend​ and test out some new product launches.

14.41 - 'Longer-term structural change,' needed, says Molson Coors MD

Brewer Molson Coors has said the sector needs "longer-term structural change" to recover from the pandemic, although welcoming "short-term support" announced in the Budget.

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Phil Whitehead, managing director for Western Europe of the Molson Coors Beverage Company, said a beer duty freeze was welcome.

He added: "However, when we are finally able to enjoy a pint with friends in our favourite local, we will still be suffering the impact of a beer duty which is 11 times higher than in Spain and Germany and three times the EU average.

“Introducing an alcohol duty system that levels the playing field for British brewers as part of the Alcohol Duty Review, as well as long-term reform of the business rates system, is an essential part of the longer-term structural support needed to give business owners, including brewers and pub operators of all sizes, the confidence and stability to invest for the future.

“We are grateful for the short-term support to bridge the gap to reopening, but we will need this longer-term structural change to rebuild, grow and help drive the UK’s social and economic recovery. Pubs are at the heart of our communities, and integral to the fabric of the UK."

14.11 - Lack of support a 'nightmare' for wet-led pubs

Wet-led pub operators have been left disappointed after their calls for focused support went largely unheard by the Chancellor.

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Matt Todd runs a tiny micropub in the Hampshire countryside, the Wonston Arms, which has not traded since before the second lockdown in England, in November 2020.

The operator had hoped the Government would listen to the industry’s calls to expand the VAT reduction to sales of alcohol. 

The latest extension is “completely irrelevant,” to his drinks-only venue, he said.

He said: “It's a bloody nightmare for me, I feel discriminated against as a wet-led pub. It feels like Rishi Sunak and the Government do not understand what hospitality means and these small community wet-led pubs are the very basis of what pubs started as. We are the original pub and we have been left out. I'm very dejected." 

13.16 - State Aid cap raised to £10.9m 

12.17 - Pubs left to contact at-risk customers themselves, report says

Public health officials hardly used check-in data from pubgoers using the NHS app, it has been reported. Officials instead encouraged venues to contact customers who may have come into contact with coronavirus directly - a breach of data protection rules.

Sky News ​claimed it had seen ​a "confidential report" outlining problems with the execution of the Test and Trace app.

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Businesses were often asked to, or volunteered themselves, to contact customers who may have come into contact with the virus, SkyNews​ reported.

"This is a breach of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and leaves businesses and venues open to potential legal challenge," the report seen by Sky News​ stated.

Local public health teams did not receive adequate guidance from Test and Trace, the report concluded.

Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality, said the claims were "incredibly frustrating."

She told the news organisation: "Our teams worked really hard to capture that data on the understanding that it was going to be used should there be problems.

"To hear that it wasn't used, and in fact we had further restrictions without really any clear evidence that there was a problem with hospitality, is a major cause for concern."

12.01 - Almost half of JDW estate to reopen for outside trading from 12 April

Pub giant JD Wetherspoon (JDW) will be reopening outdoor areas in almost half (45%) of its pubs from Monday 12 April.

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Beer gardens, roof top gardens and patios at 394 of its sites in England will be open from 9am until 9pm Sunday to Thursday and 9am to 10pm on Friday and Saturday.

The Government's roadmap will allow pubs to trade outside only, with the rule of six and table service in place.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

10.48 - Measures 'must be matched by full reopening'

The British Institute of Innkeeping's Steve Alton has said as extensions of business support will only be for a short period, rather than a whole year, pubs must be allowed to reopen fully in June.

The Government's lockdown roadmap sets out an intention for all legal limits on social contact to be lifted from 21 June, at the very earliest, in stage four of easing coronavirus restrictions.

Pubs can reopen indoors from 17 May (again, at the earliest), but this will involve restrictions on mixing between households and a table service requirement.

10.08 - 'Wet led pubs & brewers will understandably be disappointed'

  • Are you a wet led pub operator? Please get in touch and let us know your reaction to the Budget on rzvyl.unjxvaf@jeoz.pbz​ or via The MA's​ social channels.

Thursday 4 March, 09.34 - Operators turn to reopening plans after Budget 

Welcome back to The Morning Advertiser's​ lockdown live feed.

Pub companies have said they will look to reopening plans for this spring, following Chancellor Rishi Sunak's Budget yesterday (Wednesday 3 March).

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced extensions to business support. (image: ViewApart, Getty Images)
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced extensions to business support. (image: ViewApart, Getty Images)

Natasha Waterfield, chief operating officer of New World Trading Company said the furlough extension shows that "the path to recovery for hospitality is unlikely to be smooth." 

"We look forward to re-opening in line with the government planned roadmap. The additional announcement for grants, VAT and Business rate are pleasing to hear and our focus now shifts to preparing for April and May reopenings," she added.

Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of Greene King, also welcomed the extensions of support but said the Chancellor's announcement posed a number of future challenges.

Mackenzie explained: “While the business rates extension will help our tenants and smaller businesses, the £2m cap from the end of June, just nine days after planned full reopening, means larger businesses will be denied millions of pounds in vital relief at a critical time. This makes it more important than ever that the Government sticks to the timetable for reopening.

“The Chancellor has placed the additional grants at the heart of his package of support for pubs, but it will make little difference if we are unable to access them due to State Aid Rules. We need government to clarify this urgently, and remove the cap to ensure all businesses can benefit.”

Sunak outlined his plans to protect jobs and save businesses. Measures to impact the pub sector included:

Several wet led pub operators have said they feel excluded from Government support once more.

Other trade figures said they felt concerned the Government was not acting decisively enough to address the sector's mounting rent debt.

Wednesday 3 March, 09.01 - Budget Day arrives for nervous pub sector

Good morning and welcome back to The Morning Advertiser's​ live blog.

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The Morning Advertiser​ will be bringing you the latest news from Chancellor Rishi Sunak's announcement on our dedicated Budget live blog today.

16.22 - JDW and M&B among pubcos to claim most furlough in December

HMRC has published details of how much employers had claimed through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for December 2020.

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Figures published by the Government indicate the amount claimed by the country’s largest pub companies within a banded range.

JD Wetherspoon (JDW) claimed between £25,000,001 to £50,000,000 under the furlough scheme at the end of last year. 

More than 300 staff were made redundant across JDW’s airport sites and head office, The Morning Advertiser (MA)​ reported last month.

Mitchells & Butlers Leisure Retail Limited also claimed between £25,000,001 to £50,000,000.

15.11 - What will be announced at the Budget tomorrow?

The answer to that question spells make or break for many pub businesses across the country, with some saying this is the most important Budget in the sector's history.

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Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng made some suggestions of what to expect on a media round today.

When asked on BBC Breakfast​ if the furlough scheme would be extended beyond the end of April, Kwarteng said Chancellor Rishi Sunak had "already indicated that we will be extending furlough".

Appearing on BBC Radio 4's Today​ programme, he said: "I think it's a fairly good assumption that, while lockdown persists, there will be additional support."

Kwarteng added: "It's really important that we don't crush the recovery before it's happened and... in order to keep people's jobs going... to keep companies going, we need to continue providing support."

He suggested there would "perhaps be an extension" of the VAT cut for hospitality.

14.39 - Trade body calls for 'appropriate and adequate package of support'

UKHospitality has reiterated calls for more sector-specific support, ahead of tomorrow's Budget.

14.17 - 'Reduce VAT on alcohol'

Operator Jon Orman runs the Old Star Ale & Cider House, in Shoreham, West Sussex and told The MA​ what he would be looking out for at the Budget tomorrow.

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The licensee said: "Whilst we don’t know what to expect from the upcoming budget, what would certainly benefit us as a wet-led venue once we are permitted to reopen would be a reduction in VAT on alcohol.

"This would mean we could recoup some of the income lost due to the pandemic without needing to raise prices. For the industry as a whole, a reduction in beer duties would seem not just welcome, but vital."

11.51 - 'Great news for the great British pub,' CAMRA says of new funding

Consumer group the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has welcomed news that the Chancellor will pledge £150m at the Budget to help communities take ownership of pubs.

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CAMRA’s national chairman Nik Antona said: “Our locals are vital parts of our social fabric, bringing communities together and helping to tackle loneliness and social isolation. They deserve to be protected as community assets, which is why this announcement of new funding from the Chancellor is great news for the great British pub.

“Having enough funding can make all the difference when a community group is campaigning to save and take over the running of their local pub."

The Government and local authorities must ensure that pub protection policies in the planning system are properly enforced to avoid property developers from exploiting the pandemic, Antona added.

He said: "This would also give communities an opportunity and the time they need to use the new Community Ownership Fund to bid to take over the running of their local pub or social club if it is threatened with closure, change of use or demolition."

10.52 - 'When the British weather swings it will be the publican who, once again, cannot win.'

Operator Gav Young, from the Plough and Barleycorn, Isle of Wight, has shared his thoughts regarding table service rules in the Government's 'unlocking' roadmap.

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He writes: "Much has been made of the ‘reopening’ of pub beer gardens from April. 

"Although I am sure this is a great thing for those who are blessed with great views and facilities, for many it offers little if anything. 

"The Government seems to believe ‘pent up demand’ is such that people are so desperate to pay a premium for draught pint they are happy to drink it on the street, out of a plastic cup, in the rain. I have yet to speak to a publican who is convinced that this is the case."

"When the British weather swings it will be the publican who, once again, cannot win."

10.12 - 'I don't want to see a second Eat Out to Help Out scheme'

Chef owner of the Pack Horse in Hayfield, Derbyshire, Luke Payne, told The Morning Advertiser​ he hoped to see an extension to the VAT cut for hospitality in the Budget tomorrow (Wednesday 3 March).

My Post (21)

He said: "This Budget is without doubt one of the most important in the history of our industry, and early indications of a restart grant​ is welcome news. This lump sum will be vital for jump-starting businesses and paying for those initial costs of reopening.

"I would like to see an extension of both the furlough scheme and business rates relief to tie businesses over until we are back to some sense of normality.

"I think the most critical help the sector needs lies with an extension to the temporary VAT cut to 5%. This relief enables businesses to redirect cash back towards paying outstanding Covid debts, ensuring a little more long term stability.

"I will be disappointed if a second Eat Out To Help Out is announced. We are at a critical moment of addressing ideologies of perceived value when dining out, and discounting only drives a bargain culture that can quickly become unsustainable. Which, in turn completely devalues the hard work of our teams and puts them under an unnecessary additional workload when we are likely to be busy even without a discount provided."

Tuesday 2 March, 09.20 - £150m fund for community pub ownership projects

The Budget will include a £150m fund to help communities revive their local pub, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said.

Pub operators have called on the Chancellor to extend critical support at the upcoming Budget (image: bizoo_n, Getty Images)
Pub operators have called on the Chancellor to extend critical support at the upcoming Budget (image: bizoo_n, Getty Images)

He told The Sun​ newspaper: “Pubs and sports clubs are the heart and soul of our local towns and villages – they’re the glue that keeps us together.

“This fund will help to ensure vital local institutions aren’t lost to those who treasure them most.”

The Community Ownership Fund will allow communities to bid for up to £250,000 to save a nearby pub.

It is a four-year scheme and will open this summer, offering groups matched funding for the money they raise to buy a local asset. Communities can apply to the Government to double the money they have raised.

Some 1,833 pubs have disappeared from communities after being demolished and/or converted into another type of use such as homes and offices during the last three years alone, according to the real estate adviser, Altus Group.

The funding announcement comes as pub operators have been calling for the Chancellor to announce measures such as an extension of the VAT cut for hospitality, business rates holiday and furlough scheme, at the Budget tomorrow (Wednesday 3 March).

15.12 - What impact could the Supreme Court's Uber ruling have on pubs?

Julian Cox, employment law specialist at BLM, has looked at the implications of a ruling that determined Uber's drivers are workers for the purposes of UK employment law.

He writes: "In light of the outcome, if a business either benefits from or is working within the gig economy sector, there are a number of steps they should take as a matter of urgency, particularly in industries already heavily impacted by Covid lockdowns. 

"It will be crucial to carry out a thorough employment status assessment to identify whether there is a risk that those engaged as workers could be categorised according to the same criteria laid out in the Uber case. 

"This will relate to the extent of any measure of control a business exercises over the services workers offer, together with any obligation that they must be ready, willing and able to accept work when available, and whether they are subject to penalties or sanctions for not meeting these obligations."

14.07 - Local authorities will receive grant money in April

The Morning Advertiser​ has more details on the new lockdown grants announced by the Government.

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The grants will be delivered through local authorities, which will receive funding in April with the aim of paying businesses as soon as possible, The MA​ understands.

Operators have previously faced delays with coronavirus support grants, including back in the first national lockdown of spring 2020​.

12.27 - 'Cost of keeping pubs closed runs into thousands of pounds a month'

Steven Alton, CEO of the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has said the Chancellor needs to announce far-reaching support measures in the Budget as for many, the new grants will only just cover furlough contribution payments.

He said: "Our members run pubs of all sizes and business models and whilst the additional financial support in the form of these grants from the Chancellor is welcome, the cost of keeping pubs closed runs into thousands of pounds a month. Furlough contributions, rent and the cost of making our venues Covid-secure have seen our members taking further debt to just keep their businesses in hibernation ahead of reopening.

“The high overheads for pubs in the form of rent and business rates for these brick and mortar community hubs has been highlighted by the urgent need for rate reform in recent times.

“For businesses under £51k rateable value, the £12k grant, whilst hugely valuable, will in most cases only cover the contribution to furlough over the next three months, ensuring their staff will have jobs to return to in May.

“The Budget must provide a full package of measures moving forward to enable our pubs to return to profit as quickly as possible once they are able to trade freely in the summer.”

12.02 - Chancellor's rent comment dubbed 'out of touch'

Operators have said Chancellor Rishi Sunak did not reflect the reality of their rent experience when he said the average pub rent per year was "somewhere between" £14,000-20,000. 

Trade body UKHospitality (UKH) chief exuective Kate Nicholls said: "The Chancellor appears to be using the median figure for rents, which effectively bypasses large variations and ignores higher rents at the top of the scale."

11.14 - Welsh British Beer & Pub Association launched

A new trade association for Welsh businesses has been launched on St David's Day, the Welsh British Beer & Pub Association.

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The association will work alongside the British Beer & Pub Association to achieve policy outcomes for the sector of more than 3,000 pubs and 120 breweries.

It will be headed by chief executive Emma McClarkin, who urged pubs and brewers to get in touch for more information.

Mark Davies, CEO of community pub operator Hawthorn will be the chairman and said: “Pubs and the brewing industry have been at the heart of Welsh communities for centuries.

"As a Welshman born and bred, I’m proud to stand alongside my industry colleagues as part of the WBPA, to promote the beer and pub sector in Wales. The people of Wales are proud of their heritage and pubs are part of the social fabric that makes Wales such a great place to live and work.” 

10.49 - What do you need to see from the Chancellor at the Budget?

The Morning Advertiser​ is looking to hear operators' experiences ahead of Chancellor Rishi Sunak's Budget on Wednesday 3 March. 

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What support measures would you like to see announced? What does your pub desperately need to survive until reopening and while trade builds back up?

  • Please get in touch on rzvyl.unjxvaf@jeoz.pbz​ with your thoughts, details of your business and an image of yourself or your site, to be featured in The MA's​ Budget coverage.

10.22 - Operator launches legal attack on later opening

Night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord is to work with trade body UKHospitality to challenge the Government's decision to permit non-essential retail to reopen ahead of hospitality.

It comes after Lord challenge rules which forced pubs to close if they could not serve food with alcoholic drinks last year.

Judges in the court case The Queen (OAO Sacha Lord and others) v Secretary of State for Health and Social Care​ have ruled the 'substantial meal' restriction imposed on wet-led pubs during England's tiered Covid alert system was arguably discriminatory towards certain sections of society.

09.53 - MPs call for extension to furlough, VAT cut and business rates relief

More than 80 MPs have signed a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging for the extension of business support for pub businesses.

Some 83 MPs have urged the Chancellor to announce an extension to critical support for the sector at the upcoming Budget. (image by Pippa Fowles via No 10 Downing Street Flickr)
Some 83 MPs have urged the Chancellor to announce an extension to critical support for the sector at the upcoming Budget. (image by Pippa Fowles via No 10 Downing Street Flickr)

Some 83 MPs from different political parties have signed the letter from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Hospitality and Tourism, ahead of the Budget on Wednesday 3 March.

MPs called for an extension of the VAT cut to 5% on food and soft drinks for another 12 months. This should be applied to alcoholic drinks as well, the letter said.

They also asked for a continuation of the business rates holiday for the next year and an extension of the furlough scheme.

The Job Retention Bonus should be replaced and businesses should be given improved loan repayment terms and HMRC tax deferrals to help them recover, MPs added

Co-vice chair of the APPG, Sally-Ann Hart MP said: “These are businesses that are critical to communities around the country. They are focal points for social lives and drive inward investment. Ongoing Government support through to the end of the pandemic and through the recovery phase is critical to rebuilding this industry and creating jobs.”

Monday 1 March, 09.18 - Government grants welcome but support cannot stop there, trade says

Welcome back to the live blog. Pubs are to receive grants of up to £18,000, depending on their rateable value, it was announced over the weekend. 

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Trade bodies and operators said this was a huge relief, ahead of a tentative reopening date of 17 May for indoor service.

However, the Government must commit to extending other measures of support into the next financial year, including the VAT cut, furlough scheme and business rates holiday, trade representatives have said.

15.14 - Slash beer duty at the Budget to revive pub sector, MPs urge

Some 68 Conservative MPs have urged the Chancellor to slash beer duty in the Budget next week, saying this would encourage punters back to the pub.

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Backbenchers wrote to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to cut the duty in the upcoming Budget on 3 March, to help pubs recover from months of closure and restrictions amid the pandemic.

Richard Holden, MP for North West Durham, organised the letter and said: “Our pubs are at the heart of our communities and lockdown has hit them harder than any other sector.

"Whilst the Government support has been welcome, it has not made up for the massive impact of being closed for so long on these vital local institutions."

He added: "The best way for them to build back better after this crisis is to get people back into pubs and the best encouragement for publicans and the public is to see real action on beer duty.”

13.53 - Customers feel safer at the pub than shopping

Consumers felt safer in pubs and restaurants than they did in shopping centres when venues reopened in summer 2020, new research from mobile Order & Pay solution, Wi5 has found.

Punters are keen to return to their local, the research also found, with more than a quarter of those surveyed (26%) reporting they will be in their local as soon as possible.

11.57 - Vaccine rollout will continue by age, not occupation

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) announced this morning (Friday 26 February) that people aged 40-49 would be prioritised next for a jab, in the next phase of the UK's vaccine roll out.

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Even for those working in higher-risk occupations, it was older age groups most at risk of severe disease, Professor Wei Shen Lim from the JCVI said.

The JCVI decided the most effective way to prevent deaths and hospital admissions would be to roll out the vaccination by age group.

An age-based approach would protect the most number of people in the shortest period of time, Wei Shen Lim said.

There had been calls in the hospitality sector to prioritise those who cannot work from home.

11.03 - Rapid testing ‘may have limited benefits’ for almost half of operators, poll finds

Using lateral flow testing as a workable way of reopening parts of the trade where social distancing is not possible could have some benefits to 46% of operators, research has found.

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The Hospitality Leaders Poll, conducted by Lumina Intelligence on behalf of The Morning Advertiser​, MCA​, Big Hospitality ​and Restaurant​, surveyed 248 operators from across the industry.

The use of rapid testing was seen as “very promising” to 8% of respondents, with a further 8% saying it wouldn’t be viable at all and almost four in 10 (38%) unsure.

It also asked how confident business leaders were when it comes to the Government’s roadmap to reopening going to plan.

The majority (68%) had a low level of confidence, while 17% had a high degree it would go to plan, 13% had some degree and 2% were unsure.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

09.58 - 'Completely unjustifiable' for takeaway alcohol ban to continue until April

Pub operators have shared their frustration that takeaway alcohol sales will not be permitted until beer gardens can reopen on 12 April, at the earliest.

People will be allowed to meet up socially with one person from another household outside from 8 March and groups of six can meet up outdoors from 29 March.

However, they will not be able to buy a pint to takeaway from a pint – but they could buy alcohol to drink in a park from a supermarket.

The ban was an attempt to discourage people from leaving the house for non-essential purposes and socialising outside pubs, The Morning Advertiser​ reported in the early days of the third lockdown.

Friday 26 February, 09.24 - Job losses 'at eleventh hour' without further support

More than 200 representatives of the country's pub sector have signed a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging him to prevent business failures and redundancies ahead of the Budget.

The Chancellor has been urged to announce more support for hospitality. (image: ViewApart, Getty Images)
The Chancellor has been urged to announce more support for hospitality. (image: ViewApart, Getty Images)

Signatories include trade bodies UKHospitality (UKH), the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) and the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII), alongside big names including JD Wetherspoon, Star Pubs & Bars and Stonegate Pub Company.

The letter highlights fresh statistics from the Office for National Statistics that show nearly two-thirds of businesses do not have enough cash to make it until the end of May, when pubs may be permitted to fully reopen.

Measures including extensions of the furlough scheme without national insurance contributions​, business rates holiday and VAT reduction were called for.

The letter also called for enhanced sector grants until 21 June, with State Aid rules disapplied, a beer duty cut and no repayment of debts to HRMC before 1 July.

The rent moratoria should also be extended​, trade figures added.

"If Government doesn’t act now to close this gap businesses will fail, premises will close, high streets and communities will be devastated, jobs will be lost," the letter states. "The national recovery will be delayed affecting our national growth and prosperity."

"There is a significant gap between the current support provided by the Government and the fixed outgoings associated with a closed hospitality business," it added.

16.19 - Clubs need support to survive until summer'

The late-night sector has urged the Chancellor for additional financial support to ensure nightclubs are still in business by the time they are allowed to reopen.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his intention to reopen nightclubs from 21 June, in his roadmap out of lockdown.

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) said more details on reopening were needed, in addition to urgent financial support to save struggling businesses.

NTIA boss Michael Kill added: “We are pleased to hear within the Prime Minister’s statement the inclusion of a timeline for night-time economy businesses, in particular some of the hardest hit businesses, many of which have been closed since March 2020, like nightclubs, bars and casinos.”

Findings from the NTIA suggest that 85% of those working in the night time economy are considering leaving the sector, Kill said.

He added: “The sector urgently needs additional clarity on reopening and critical financial support from the Chancellor if we are to avoid economic and social damage that will last a generation.”

14.30 - Extend commercial eviction ban until July, campaign urges

A campaign for a three-month extension of the commercial eviction moratorium and flexibility on rent repayments, has been launched.

The #GiveHospitalityABreak campaign has urged the Government for a further three-month extension to the eviction ban from 31 March and a two-year period for businesses to pay half the back-rent owed.

The campaign said this would be a Government mandated starting point for reasonable negotiations between tenants and landlords.

It would avoid the issue of tenants having to pay a pre-coronavirus rent in a post-coronavirus market, according to campaigners.

Campaign founder Tony Lorenz said: “With no word from the Government thus far, clarity is urgently needed to avoid bankruptcies, and the follow-on mass unemployment in the sector. That too would have knock-on impacts on the tourism and travel industries, crucial parts of the UK’s domestic offering.”

11.51 - 1 in 10 operators won’t survive if Budget doesn’t extend support

Some 9% of business leaders expect their companies not to continue if Chancellor Rishi Sunak does not announce further support in the Budget next week (Wednesday 3 March), according to research.

The CGA Business Leaders’ Survey 2021, which was sponsored by Fourth and conducted in collaboration with UKHospitality, the British Beer & Pub Association and the British Institute of Innkeeping included 726 respondents.

Additionally, just over a third (37%) stated their businesses could return to profit this year without new support.

However, there were levels of optimism in the survey with about half (51%) stated they were confident about prospects for the sector over the next year – more than three times the number who felt that way in November last year (14%).

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

11.09 - What has been speculated about the upcoming Budget?

James Calder, chief exuective of the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has summarised what it has been reported that Chancellor Sunak will announced on 3 March.

He tweeted that there had been no reports about further grant funding or the VAT reduction being extended to cover alcohol.

The Sun​ has echoed earlier reports by reporting today that Sunak is to extend furlough, the business rates holiday and the VAT reduction for food and soft drinks.

Thursday 25 February, 09.43 -  How many pubs will reopen outside only?

Half of pub operators surveyed by The Morning Advertiser​ have made up their minds to not reopen in April when permitted to reopen for outdoor service.

Outside opening: the BBPA estimated three in five pubs were likely to stay shut until indoor service was permitted (image: Birgit Korber, Getty Images)
Outside opening: the BBPA estimated three in five pubs were likely to stay shut until indoor service was permitted (image: Birgit Korber, Getty Images)

Some 30% of licensees have decided to reopen outside while 20% were still making up their minds, a poll on this live blog found. 

More than 600 readers voted to share their situation, following the Prime Minister's announcement that beer gardens may be able to reopen from 12 April​ while indoor service will resume on 17 May, at the earliest.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) estimated that three in five pubs would not be likely to reopen from 12 April.

Operators shared their mixed emotions​, with some calling the news a "huge blow" while others said they hoped for a positive five weeks of trading outside.

16.13 - Vaccine prioritisation for hospitality workers?

Vote in The Morning Advertiser'​s poll on the issue below.

14.41 - What are the rules around outdoor opening?

For operators that have an outside space, many are keen to learn the rules around operation from 12 April. However, the Government has been tight-lipped on the matter and suggested further details will only be revealed closer to a confirmed reopening date.

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The Morning Advertiser​ looked at the rules around external structures and pavement licences.

14.22 - 'Constructive meeting' on Scottish reopening details

UKHospitality's chief executive Kate Nicholls said she has met with officials in Scotland to discuss giving the sector clarity on reopening.

Trade bodies said they were left feeling uncertain following an announcement yesterday (Tuesday 23 February).

11.09 - Will pub customers need to have a vaccine passport?

The Government is set to conduct a review into the possibility of using of vaccine passports for entry into pubs.

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If the review is signed off on Covid status certificates, it could mean pubs could prevent customers for entry if they are unable to give evidence they have received the vaccine or tested negative for the virus.

In the House of Commons on Monday (22 February), Johnson said: “The third review will consider the potential role of Covid status certification in helping venues to open safely."

10.02 - Vote: will you reopen outside when permitted?

Three in five pubs may not reopen in April, when pubs are permitted to reopen for outdoor service​, according to the BBPA. Let us know your situation and join in the conversation on social media.

Survey

Will you reopen outside when allowed?

  • Yes

    30%
  • No

    50%
  • Unsure

    20%

Wednesday 24 February, 09.41 - Chancellor to extend critical business support, report suggests

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is to announce an extension to business support including the reduced VAT rate and business rates holiday, according to one newspaper.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been urged to help businesses survive the months to come. (image: Pippa Fowles,  No 10 Downing Street on Flickr)
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been urged to help businesses survive the months to come. (image: Pippa Fowles, No 10 Downing Street on Flickr)

The Times​ has reported Sunak will extend the business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses, to the sum of just under £1bn a month.

What's more, the VAT cut will be extended, costing the Treasury an estimated £200m a month, according to the paper.

Sunak will also extend the furlough scheme, currently set to expire on 30 April, until the end of June. 

Pub operators are eagerly awaiting Sunak's Budget on 3 March and have been calling for extensions to the above policies, in addition to a beer duty cut.

In response to the Government's plan to reopen pubs fully in late May​, Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame said: "By 17 May, the majority of our pubs will have been closed to the public for a staggering 192 days, in addition to the 105 days of the first lockdown.

"We have supported our licensees by not charging rent at this time but all pubs will continue to lose money until the summer. All eyes are now on the Chancellor next week for his budget announcement."

The Chancellor plans to increase corporation tax, with an increase up to 23-25% being considered by the Treasury, according to The Times​.

14.35 - Scottish hospitality expected to reopen in April

The hospitality sector in Scotland is expected to reopen in the last week of April, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

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Restrictions will begin to ease for the country before then with four people from two households allowed to meet up outside from next month (15 March).

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

12.36 - What you need to know about reopening after the third lockdown

The reopening of hospitality will be permitted after the third lockdown this spring with varying restrictions in place.

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The roadmap, which was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday (Monday 22 February)​, outlined the plan of how the Government is expecting to ease restrictions.

It means pubs with external spaces can begin trading in that outside area from April with indoor serving permitted from May.

The easing will be subject to the four tests, as highlighted by Johnson.

These are:

  • The vaccine deployment continues successfully
  • Evidence showing vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations
  • Assessment of risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants

The Morning Advertiser ​(MA​) has outlined the key points from the 68-page document, which is available here​, below.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

11.54 - 3 in 5 pubs unlikely to reopen in April, BBPA estimates

Three in five pubs across the UK will remain closed when outdoor service only is permitted from 12 April, a trade body has said.

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The estimation from the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) follows the announcement that pubs will have to wait until 17 May at the earliest before they can reopen fully.

Many pubs will be unable to reopen outside and trade at a profit or lack a garden, costing the sector some £1.5bn, the BBPA said. 

Vote in our survey below and share whether you will be reopening for outside service or not.

11.14 - 'We are in the business of bringing people together,' says Shepherd Neame boss

The chief executive of Kent-based brewer and pub operator, Shepherd Neame, has said he is disappointed pubs cannot open for indoor service earlier and believes pubs should fully open alongside non-essential retail.

Shepherd Neame Chief Executive Jonathan Neame

Jonathan Neame said: "But the critical point is that from June 21 all legal limits on social contact will be removed. This is the moment that we can finally come together again to enjoy everything that defines the Great British pub - music, sport, laughter and chat. We are in the business of bringing people together not keeping them apart.

"We also welcome the Government’s decision to remove the more unworkable restrictions introduced in the autumn such as the ‘substantial meal’ rule. Instead, we will follow the same exemplary hygiene and social distancing measures introduced last summer to ensure a safe environment for our team members and customers.

"By May 17, the majority of our pubs will have been closed to the public for a staggering 192 days in addition to the 105 days of the first lockdown. We have supported our licensees by not charging rent at this time but all pubs will continue to lose money until the summer. All eyes are now on the Chancellor next week for his budget announcement."

09.52 - Will you reopen outdoors when allowed?

Vote in our survey on the issue and let us know your thoughts on social media @morningad​. 

Survey

Will you reopen outside when allowed?

  • Yes

    30%
  • No

    50%
  • Unsure

    20%

Tuesday 23 February, 09.37 - Operators reel after lockdown plan confirmed

Trade figures have reiterated calls for Chancellor Rishi Sunak to urgently confirm the continuation of existing support for businesses beleaguered by the pandemic.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out his "cautious" plan to release England from lockdown yesterday (Monday 22 February), confirming pubs would reopen at the earliest on 12 April outside and on 17 May indoors at the earliest.

There will be at least five weeks between stages of lockdown easing and an announcement one week ahead of a confirmed date.

Many pubs said on social media they would struggle to operate at a profit with just outside service permitted or that they didn't have a space to make this possible.

Operators have called for an extension of support such as the VAT reduction for hospitality and the business rates holiday, as well as a continuation of the furlough scheme beyond its current end date.

After outlining the strategy, the Prime Minister said information about support for businesses would be revealed by the Chancellor at the upcoming budget on 3 March.

However, operators say this means eight days of further uncertainty and have called for clarity sooner.

16.33 - Late night sector 'pleased' to hear reopening timeline

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has said it is pleased to have recieved an indicaiton of when nightclubs could reopen.

The Government's roadmap document states nightclubs can reopen under Step 4 of its 'Covid-19 Response' plan, no earlier than 21 June.

The document states: "Step 4 will take place no earlier than 21 June, and at least five weeks after Step 3, following a further review of the data against the four tests. As before, the Government will announce one week in advance whether restrictions will be eased as planned."

16.24 - Social media reaction: outdoor opening an 'impossible' ask 

One operator has said the second stage of lockdown easing makes it "almost impossible" for pubs to trade profitably.

Chief executive of Camerons Brewery, Chris Soley, has implored Chancellor Rishi Sunak to "step up" and offer more financial support to pubs.

Oakman Inns' chairman, Peter Borg-Neal was also watching the announcement and shared his thoughts on Twitter. 

16.17 - Why reopen outside elements first?

It's the question many operators will be asking.

Here's what the Government have stated in it's roadmap document: "The sequencing of easing will be driven by the evidence on sources of transmission. Outdoor activity has been prioritised because the likelihood of Covid-19 transmission is substantially lower in the open air than indoors.

"This restores more freedom to people more quickly while minimising the impact on transmission."

16.15 - 'My head hurts and my heart aches'

Loungers' co-founder Alex Reilley has shared his frustration at the news of a phased reopening on Twitter.

16.05 - Roadmap documents acknowledges disproportionate impact on sector

The Government has published its 'Covid-19 response, Spring 2021' document, otherwise known as the lockdown roadmap, on the Gov.uk website​.

It acknowledges the economic impact of multiple lockdowns and states: "The pain has not been felt equally. Staff in the hardest-hit sectors, such as hospitality, are more likely to be young, female, from an ethnic minority, and lower paid. The unemployment rate for those aged 18 to 24 increased from 10.5% in the three months to February 2020 to 13.2% in the three months to November 2020"

The document also confirms the unpopular substantial meal requirement will not return and pubs will be able to serve alcohol freely. The 10pm curfew will not return either. 

16.00 - 17 May confirmed as earliest date for pubs reopening indoors

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed pubs will be permitted to reopen outdoors from 12 April and indoors from 17 May, at the very earliest.

spring 2021

The Government's roadmap document confirms that unpopular policies, including the 10pm curfew and substantial meal requirement, will not return, at any stage of the easing.

The exact dates pubs will be able to reopen are dependent on how well the country does in battling infection numbers over the next few weeks, with the Government providing four conditions before restrictions can be eased further.

Trade bodies had warned the Government that many pubs would struggle to only open outdoors and now all attention will surely turn to Chancellor Rishi Sunak's 3 March Budget.

Concern among some operators is that when a partial reopening is allowed, there will be a drop-off in financial support from the Government. Trade figures are keen to see a continuation of essential support such as the VAT reduction for hospitality and an extension of the business rates holiday.

15.30 - Prime Minister to outline lockdown exit-route

Boris Johnson is to outline his lockdown exit strategy in the House of Commons shortly.

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13.31 - Marston's looking for 'some degree of positivity' from announcement 

Marston's chief executive, Ralph Findlay, told BBC Radio 4's Today​ programme this morning that he hoped the Prime Minister would provide the pub sector with a route out of closure.

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He was asked when he thought pubs could reopen. He said: "In terms of expectations, I just work with the basis we have been closed for nine months out of the previous 12.

"What's really important to me is that today we get some degree of positivity and a route to seeing these restrictions lifted, so we can come out in some sort of reasonable timescale. I don't think I can put a date on that but I do think that the case is made for getting this sector up and running again sooner rather than later."

When asked about restrictions, the pubco boss said: "That may work in some cases but it is also important to recognise for many hospitality businesses in particular, operating with restrictions is very difficult.

"It’s quite hard to make profit and to economically have businesses viable with the kind of restrictions we have been operating under. I would just remind you, we did open last year, it's not as if we haven't done this before. We opened on 4 July last year and we opened very well."

Findlay added: "Clearly people are cautious, they have a degree of concern, but if you look back at what happened last year, actually, we opened July, August, September - for much of that period infections did not increase in any scale."

12.42 - What do operators want when pubs can reopen?

As we wait to hear from the Prime Minister, here's a reminder of what readers have said about reopening hospitality. 

Several operators have said opening outside would not be feasible​, with research from the BBPA claiming some 60% of operators​ would not be able to reopen under these circumstances.

Licensees have said any restrictions on serving alcohol would make it incredibly difficult to operate. More than two thirds (67%) of businesses would be unable to reopen if the Government banned the sale of alcohol, a sector survey found.

What's more, some operators are keen to see an end to regional rules​ - something the Government has already confirmed it will avoid.

Elaine Wrigley is the joint managing director of the Atlas Bar in Manchester and told The MA​ she would not like to see measures such as the 10pm curfew return. 

“We’re looking out for some clarity, what the triggers will be for the stages of that roadmap. We understand the Government is unlikely to give absolute dates but we need to know what will trigger the decision making," she said of the announcement later today."

What's more, several pub company bosses have said pubs should be permitted to open at the same time as non-essential retail, including Chris Jowsey from Admiral Taverns.

The sector continues to call for further support including an extension of the VAT reduction and business rates holiday.

11.12 - 'Customers will assume the pub experience is no longer a happy one'

Multiple-site operator John Ellis has written an opinion piece for The MA​, claiming that opening pubs too early could risk losing customers on a long-term basis.

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A raft of restrictions in the springtime could discourage punters from returning to their locals, Ellis writes.

"It is very important that, when we are able to welcome customers back, we should be able to do so without rules and regulations that detract from that experience," he writes. "To open up too early will only give customers the impression that the 'restrictions are the new normal' and the pub experience is no longer a happy one."

He adds: "Much as I would love to be open and trading again, please be aware that many of us want to be long-term operators, not just chasing short-term takings in April and May."

10.13 - Pub sector looks set to be 'disappointed' by announcement, BBPA boss says

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has said that the sector will be disappointed if leaked accounts of the roadmap prove true.

Outdoor opening is not viable for businesses, she added.

09.52 - Four steps for lifting lockdown

As reported by The Morning Advertiser​, the roadmap will outline four steps for easing restrictions and before proceeding to the next step, the Government will examine the data to assess the impact of previous easements.

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The four conditions that must be met at each phase of the restrictions easing are:

  • The coronavirus vaccine programme continues successfully
  • Evidence shows the vaccines are sufficiently reducing the number of deaths due to the virus or the number of hospitalisations falling
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations, putting “unsustainable pressure on the NHS”
  • New variants of the virus do not fundamentally change the risk of easing restrictions.

Boris Johnson will be making a statement to Parliament this afternoon before addressing the nation at a Downing Street press conference this evening.

Monday 22 February, 09.28 - What have the newspapers said about pubs reopening?

Welcome back to the MA's​ live blog. Parts of the 'unlocking' roadmap have been leaked in the press over the weekend, with several newspapers offering slightly different estimations as to when pubs could reopen.

Johnson will outline his roadmap out of lockdown later today (image: Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street)
Johnson will outline his roadmap out of lockdown later today (image: Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street)

The reports come ahead of Prime Minister Boris Johnson setting out the plans in Parliament later today, thought to be around 3.30pm.

There seems to be little disparity between newspapers on their reporting of the first stages of lockdown easing. It is understood schools will fully reopen and people will be free to meet up with one person from another household in a public place for socialising, not just for exercise, from 8 March.

Up to six people or two households will be able to meet from 29 March outside, the papers have suggested.

Most papers have suggested that beer gardens will be permitted to reopen before indoor service. This has already angered many operators on social media, given research from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) that found some 60% of operators could not reopen under these restrictions.

The Sun ​newspaper has reported that pubs will be able to open outside in the second stage of lockdown easing, which they estimate will be around 12-19 April.

The Telegraph​ has also reported an outdoor opening will be allowed in April while the Guardian​ has said this may be permitted at the end of April.

The Sun​ and the Guardian​ have reported indoor service for hospitality will be allowed in May.

Calls for sector-specific support have been reiterated, with some trade figures urging Chancellor Rishi Sunak to set out new measures ahead of the 3 March Budget.

15.17 - 'Pubs can be part of the roadmap out of lockdown'

A major brewer has called on the Government to move to protect sector jobs and allow pubs to reopen at the same time as non-essential retail.

The statement from Carlsberg Marston's comes ahead of the Prime Minister's roadmap to unlock the nation on Monday 22 February. 

Bruce Ray, vice president corporate affairs, Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company said:

"Monday marks 336 days since our vibrant industry was shut-down. We urgently need three things from the Prime Minister as we emerge from lockdown that gives us a clear plan for pints, pubs and people.  

“For our pints, brewers and their supply chain, which have been affected more than most given the closure of pubs, need confirmed assurance of sustained financial support, most importantly a significant beer duty cut, otherwise many could be lost forever. 

“For our beloved pubs, we need confirmation that they will open alongside non-essential retail, and they can do so without arbitrary restrictions. Pubs can be part of the roadmap out of lockdown, given the excellent lengths they have gone to in making their premises safe for guests. 

“And finally, but most importantly, we need to protect the livelihoods of the people who make the British brewing and hospitality industry what it is – a cherished national asset that we can’t let disappear or change forever.”  

14.43 - What do Greater Manchester operators want from the roadmap?

The Morning Advertiser​ spoke to operators in Greater Manchester - hit hard by regional measures last year - about their hopes ahead of the 'unlocking' strategy, to be released on Monday.

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Operator Ian Mitty is reluctant to return to a regional system and said in his experience some customers are keen to “go around” rather than accept rules, by travelling to different areas.

His “Christmas card-like” village pub the Holts Arms in Billinge, Wigan, has been closed since early November, meaning the site could be closed for some six months before it is allowed to trade again.

He would rather see a longer closure period with bolstered support rather than reopening with heavy trading constraints – something like the rules in July 2020 would not be ideal but liveable, he said.

"The trade is about being hospitable, welcoming people in, making sure they're comfortable and being friendly," the licensee added. The pub has not felt like a pub with staff keen to ensure customers are sticking to pandemic rules, he explained.

“We were losing more money open than we were closed,” Mitty said of the tiered system of rules in place last year.

Regional rules do not work, Mitty said. His pub is situated on the border of three different councils which meant pubgoers would travel to wherever they would be allowed to drink.

The licensee hopes to see a “clear and simple” system in the roadmap, with “national rules that everyone understands.”

14.01 - 'Any measures should be evidence based'

James Calder, SIBA chief executive has said pubs should be allowed to reopen in full in May.

SIBA has released its ten-point plan for reopening, calling on the Government to avoid a 'soft' reopening where trading is severely limited.

He said: "Hospitality has repeatedly and consistently shown it is safe and with the top 9 vaccine groups on track to be vaccinated by mid-April there is no reason why pubs cannot re-open, in full, in May. If the PM announces a phased approach, with restrictions then sub-optimal trading means the sector, including breweries needs further targeted support. Any measures should be evidence based, and this evidence provided to justify them.

“If pubs have to wait until July for a full return to normality, then many hundreds of brewery businesses will not survive without support. 2020 has already set craft brewing back 10 years, with a contraction in production of 34% compared to the wider economy of 9.9%. We need to see meaningful consultation with industry from those at the top of Government and a sensible, evidence based action plan.”

12.32 - Business rates review delay 'a disappointment' 

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has responded to the news that the Government is to delay the publication of its final report reviewing business rates.

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Nicholls said: “The business rates system as it relates to hospitality has been broken for some time. It is an antiquated system of tax that bears almost no relation to the realities of business in the 21st Century. It needs addressing, so a delay in the review is obviously a disappointment.

“If it must be delayed, then it is absolutely vital that the Government uses the extra time to ensure it gets this right. After the misery of last year, a properly functioning, equitable rates system is now more critical than ever. 

"In the meantime, there is now no reason why the business rates holiday should not be extended for another year. Extend this support, along with the VAT cut, at the Budget, then deliver a whole new rates system that no longer unfairly penalises our sector.”

12.06 - £5m fund announced to revive central London hospitality

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he will put £5m into promoting pubgoers back into central London, when it is safe to do so.

Khan said: “I am determined to do everything I can to help our great city recover as quickly as possible from this appalling pandemic.

“Crucial to that will be the safe reopening of central London and attracting Londoners and domestic visitors back to our amazing restaurants, pubs, cultural venues and of course our major shopping districts like Oxford and Regent Street and Covent Garden. 

“London has always been one of the most visited cities in the world and my proposed investment will help to support central London as it begins to recover."

11.56 - Booze ban would mean 67% of venues could not reopen

More than two thirds (67%) of businesses would be unable to reopen if the Government banned the sale of alcohol, a sector survey has found.

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Voices from across the trade slammed the rumoured reports​ around the possibility of barring reopened pubs from selling alcohol.

In the poll, almost a fifth (19%) stated if the Government prevented the selling alcohol, it would have an ‘extreme impact’ on their business.

Some 8% said it would be ‘very impactful’, 3% ‘somewhat impactful’ with 1% saying ‘slightly impactful’ and 1% ‘not at all impactful’.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher.

10.19 - Business rates review report delayed

The Government has announced it is delaying its review of business rates, with a final report to be published in the autumn. 

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It will publish an interim report, summarising consultation responses from business operators, on the 23 March.

The Government said it hoped the economic situation would be more certain when the final report is published.

James Calder, boss of the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), tweeted that the delay was "understandable but a missed opportunity."

Friday 19 February, 09.47 - Chancellor reportedly to extend business rates relief and furlough 

It has been reported that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will extend the business rates holiday and furlough scheme at the Budget next month.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been implored to help the hospitality sector (image: Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street via Flickr)
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been implored to help the hospitality sector (image: Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street via Flickr)

The Financial Times​ reported that the furlough scheme will be kept in place until the summer before being phased out.

The speculation comes after Scotland threw down the gauntlet to the Westminster Government by announcing its own extension of non-domestic rates relief for the 2021/22 year.

Pub operators have said they desperately need an extension of business rates relief and a reduced VAT rate for the sector, ahead of the 3 March Budget.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “The uncertainty and speculation surrounding the reopening of pubs is hugely unsettling for a sector that is already on its knees. 

"We urge the Government to commit to a roadmap which sees pubs reopen, indoors and out, alongside non-essential retail. By then, the vaccine will have been rolled out to millions more, and pubs can open whilst continuing to follow exemplary hygiene measures, world leading standards in guidance and social distancing that makes them safe. 

“Until then, the Government must do all it can in the upcoming Budget to support our sector until it opens to trade properly.” 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will unveil his unlocking plans on Monday 22 February. This means the two week period between next Monday and the Budget will be the "most critical" time for the sector, according to the night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord.

16.20 - More than 16m people have been vaccinated

More than 16m people have reciveed their first coronavirus jab, the Government has revealed.

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The total of first doses given out is 16,423,082 while another 573,724 people have received their second dose.

Releasing the trade body's 'roadmap to recovery', UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The success of the vaccine rollout thus far is hugely encouraging and offers not just hospitality but the whole of society a clear exit from this current lockdown.

“However, a delayed reopening will come at the cost of even more jobs and more business collapses – this is an industry that is clearly already on its knees and that has already lost one million jobs, including those lost amongst our ailing supply partners."

15.02 - 'No point guessing'

One pub has said speculation is "unhelpful for business, staff and the industry," regarding the Government's roadmap out of lockdown, which is set to be unveiled on Monday 22 February. 

12.53 - 'Thank you to pubs for going above and beyond'

One MP, Paul Scully, has tweeted that pubs should be recognised for their work servicing their communities during the national lockdown.

11.47 - Get in touch: are you a pub operator in Manchester?

The Morning Advertiser​ is looking to hear from pub and bar operators in Greater Manchester about their hopes and concerns for their business, ahead of the Government's roadmap announcement.

Manchester pub operators

Under what type of system would you be able to reopen and operate successfully? 

  • Is this you? Please get in touch via Twitter @morningad or email rzvyl.unjxvaf@jeoz.pbz​ to share your experience.

11.25 - 'We can swiftly, safely and sustainably reopen pubs in April'

As reported earlier, UKHospitality has called on the Government to not delay the reopening of pubs and restaurants, issuing its own ‘roadmap to recovery’ ahead of the Government’s unlocking.

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Here's more details on what the trade body has pressed ministers for.

In a ten point plan, UKHospitality (UKH) calls on officials to consider operators’ efforts in ensuring the safety of venues and said pubs should be allowed to return to “more normalised trading’ this summer.”

As the most vulnerable in society will have full protection from the vaccine by early March, the Government should consider “movement through the existing tier system” with a gradual regional reopening.

UKH called for a “transitionary system”, modelled on the measures introduced in July 2020 when pubs reopened after the first lockdown, from early April. These rules - including table service and social distancing - could be reviewed in two-three weeks with “local, tailored” policies for areas experiencing outbreaks.

When everyone over the age of 50 and those particularly vulnerable have received their second doses, by mid-June, pubs and restaurants should be permitted a “more normalised trading regime.”

10.41 - Night-time economy ‘at risk of becoming extinct’

Businesses operating in the late-night sector are facing the possibility of becoming extinct, research has highlighted.

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The report Covid-19 and UK Nightlife​ was an inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Night-Time Economy, a cross party group of more than 40 MPs and received 20,112 responses from 11 January to 7 February 2021.

It revealed the large majority (85%) of those working in the sector are considering leaving the industry and more than three quarters (78%) of all employees had at some point, been on furlough.

On average, 47% of customers would spend between £50 and £100 on a night out and a further almost fifth (18%) would spend up to £150 in total.

Over half (55%) of nightclubs have been unable to trade for the duration of the pandemic so far with 92% trading for six months or less.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

09.45 - 'No valid reason for sector be at back of queue'

In response to comments made by the Prime Minister, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has said: "There is no valid reason for hospitality to be at the back of the queue as data shows hospitality venues are very low risk due to the exceptional investment that businesses have made in creating safe and Covid-secure environments.

“It’s clearly important the government follows the data, and we understand the point, but the data is showing that we can move swiftly, safely and sustainably to reopen hospitality in April."

Her comments come as newspapers have reported non-essential shops may be allowed to reopen as much as a month ahead of hospitality.

UKHospitality has released its own 'roadmap to recovery', calling for reopening in early April with a "transitionary system, building on the measures introduced in July 2020".

The Government should begin a gradual regional reopening once the top four priority groups are protected. This group is set to be protected by early March, given time for the vaccine's protection to kick in. 

After everyone over the age of 50 and the vulnerable have recieved their second doses by mid-June, the sector should be permitted to return to a "more normalised trading regime," UKH said.

Thursday 18 February, 09.30 - PM to examine coronavirus data for 'unlocking' as early as tonight

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to receive the information about coronavirus rates that will be used to decide how to ease England out of lockdown, possibly as early as tonight, according to The Sun​ newspaper.

Boris Johnson has said he will take a 'cautious' route out of lockdown (image by Simon Dawson, No 10 Downing Street on Flickr)
Boris Johnson has said he will take a 'cautious' route out of lockdown (image by Simon Dawson, No 10 Downing Street on Flickr)

Johnson and a team of Cabinet ministers and officials will examine the data and draw up the final 'roadmap to recovery' this weekend, before presenting it to MPs and the public on Monday 22 February. 

Speaking yesterday, the PM said the plan would be based on a “cautious and prudent approach to coming out of lockdown in such a way that is irreversible."

He said he would be lead by "data not dates" amid newspaper speculation about how the Government was considering reopening hospitality.

On the reopening of the sector, the PM told journalists yesterday: “I certainly think we need to go in stages, we need to go cautiously. Last year, we opened up hospitality fully as one of the last things we did because there is obviously an extra risk of transmission from hospitality."

Sector figures have slammed the comment and said there is no reason why pubs should be among the last businesses to reopen.

15.32 - Country cannot aim for 'zero' coronavirus deaths, MP says

The UK will have to live with some level of coronavirus deaths for the foreseeable future, according to the Conservative chair of the Science and Technology Committee.

MP Greg Clark told BBC Radio 4's World at One​ : “I don’t think you’re ever going to have a precise figure [for acceptable levels], just as we don’t target a figure for road deaths.

"But the key insight from that is that it’s not zero.”

He added: “If we’re going to live with Covid... then we are going to have to live with some level of infection, and not pursue policies that are predicated on completely eradicating it, which is likely to be impossible.”

“It is for Parliament and leaders to indicate through the policy decisions they make, what kind of tolerance they have.

"It’s clearly not zero, otherwise we wouldn’t be driving cars, and we wouldn’t be going out in the winter for fear of flu.”

14.23 - 'Hospitality has repeatedly and consistently shown it is safe'

James Calder, chief executive of the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), has responded to media speculation that pubs may be among the last areas of society to reopen.

He said: "This weekend ministers will decide the final details of the roadmap out of lockdown. Media speculation today suggests that non essential retail will come out before Hospitality, which is untenable. Hospitality has repeatedly and consistently shown it is safe and with the top nine vaccine groups on track to be vaccinated by mid April there is no reason why pubs cannot re-open, in full, in May. 

"If we have to wait until July for a full return to normality, then many hundreds of brewery businesses will not survive these months of sub-optimal trading."

SIBA has called for Government grants of between £10k-30k to help support breweries.

12.11 - 'Encouraging news' on Scottish rates relief

Steve Alton, the chief executive of the British Institute of Innkeeping, has lauded news that Scottish pubs will not have to pay business rates for the year 2021/22.

11.36 - Are pubs safer from Covid-19 than public transport and shops?

An operator has slammed claims that pubs are particularly risky for corornavirus transmission, writing for The Morning Advertiser​ today.

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Tim Tomlinson, operator of the White Cross, Merchants 1688 and Stonewell Tap in Lancaster, Lancashire, responded to research claiming Scottish pubs did not intervene to prevent risky behaviour​, such as not social distancing, this summer.

He writes: "I would challenge that other important areas of social interaction have far less control and oversight and therefore carry higher risks of transmission than pubs and bars. 

"For example, anyone who went shopping in December knows that once you are clicked through the front door of a shop it was pretty much a free for all.

"On public transport you could be sat next to a stranger, albeit in masks, for half an hour and touch handrails that have been touched by many, many people that day without being cleaned.    

"Ask anyone going to work at the moment in a factory, office or building site and see how rigorous their spacing and sanitisation is? Familiarity is one of the main reasons why people drop their safeguards and workplaces are clearly a big area where this is the case. 

"None of these factors apply to pubs and bars."

10.25 - Operators express frustration at media reports

A late reopening date for hospitality runs the risk of encouraging people to socialise in unsafe environments, the trade has said.

It comes in response to a newspaper reporting that pubs could reopen in May after non-essential shops.

10.01 - Pubs to reopen in May with two households inside rule, leaked timetable suggests

The Daily Mail​ has reported pubs will reopen in early May with a two household limit for inside service and a rule of six customers for social meet-ups in beer gardens.

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It has alleged details on the blueprint being discussed by ministers to release the country from its third lockdown. Measures would be lifted on a monthly basis.

In early June, rules for pubs and restaurants could be relaxed with the rule of six extended indoors.

The article states that non-essential shops will reopen ahead of pubs around the end of March or start of April. Pub bosses have lambasted the notion of shops being allowed to reopen before pubs in recent weeks, including JD Wetherspoon's Tim Martin and Admiral Taverns' Chris Jowsey.

Operators have said they are sick of seeing differing reports on hospitality's reopening in the press and accused the Government of leaking plans instead of providing the sector with any real clarity.

Wednesday 17 February, 09.24 - Government considering slashing employer contributions

The Government may slash employer National Insurance contributions in the Budget, according to The Sun​ newspaper.

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak wants to protect jobs and encourage bosses to hire new workers, the paper said.

He is also considering a job retention bonus scheme which would see businesses granted £1,000 for every worker brought back from furlough.

A source told the paper​: “The Treasury is keen to support jobs rather than businesses.”

Operators said having to pay National Insurance and pension contributions was a source of further financial pressure amid England's third lockdown.

16.13 - Business rates relief to be extended further in Scotland

Full relief on business rates for the hospitality sector will be extended for another year in Scotland, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes announced today.

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Forbes pledged to continue relief on non-domestic rates for an initial extra three months funded by money reimbursed by supermarkets last month (January).

However, she said today: "I am now in a position to provide that certainty to business, meeting the number one ask of the business community and demonstrating our commitment to supporting the economy."

The relief will apply for properties in the retail, hospitality, leisure and aviation sectors for all of 2021-22.

Pub operators in England are awaiting Chancellor Rishi Sunak's Budget on 3 March and have been calling for an extension of the business rates holiday. 

14.12 - How many pubs can open if just outdoor service is allowed?

Some 29,000 pubs will have to stay shut if the Government rules outdoor service only is permitted in April.

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This equates to 60% of the UK’s pubs that won’t be able to reopen due to not having enough space externally, according to the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).

It added if external areas only were required to reopen for April, less than a fifth (17%) of pub capacity would be opened, resulting in a drop in turnover for the sector of £1.5bn compared to normal time trading.

The trade body called for continuing grant support for the pubs that would have to remain shut and those who could partially reopen but with reduced trade.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

11.59 - 'People have had enough' with alcohol ban

Operators are growing increasingly frustrated with the ban on takeaway alcohol sales,​ leading some to sell beer under the radar, according to operator Heath Ball.

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Speaking on the latest edition of The Morning Advertiser's​ Lock In podcast, the operator said: "I have a few friends who have sort of said 'screw it, I need to sell alcohol'.

"They're not announcing it, not telling everyone they're doing it, but if you want to pick up beer, a bottle of wine, they're doing that.

"The injustice of not being able to sell alcohol when the supermarket next door to them can, people have had enough. They have realised the Government is not being very fair."

Pubs are presently banned from selling alcoholic drinks to takeaway, click-and-collect or through drive-through services, but can deliver alcohol to fixed addresses.

11.05 - 'Overwhelming majority of pubs followed the rules'

The pub sector has rebuked a study claiming Scottish pubs did not intervene enough to prevent customers engaging in risky behaviour this summer.

The University of Stirling research was slammed by one trade group as part of an "out-of-date witch hunt".

10.05 - Rapid testing could help nightclubs reopen

Nightclubs could reopen with the introduction of speedy coronavirus testing, the Prime Minister suggested last night (Monday 15 February).

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At a Downing Street press conference last night Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “For the purposes of this country and doing things within the domestic UK economy, we will look at everything.

“But what we are thinking of at the moment is more of a route that relies on mass vaccination…plus lateral flow testing, rapid testing for those bits of the economy that are the toughest nuts to crack, such as nightclubs or theatres, those parts of the economy we couldn’t get open last year and I think that will be the route we go down and that businesses will go down.”

Johnson said that it was “still early days" with further discussions on this matter to be had.

Clubs have been closed since the first lockdown with UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls calling nightclubs “one of the unfortunate, unnoticed casualties of the pandemic​”.

Tuesday 16 February, 09.36 - Government scientists divided over 'one metre plus' future

Officials are yet to make a decision about the future of social distancing policies, according to Sky News​.

The Government is to outline its roadmap out of lockdown on 22 February (image: Simon Dawson/ No 10 Downing Street via Flickr)
The Government is to outline its roadmap out of lockdown on 22 February (image: Simon Dawson/ No 10 Downing Street via Flickr)

Government scientists have pressed the importance of continuing "one metre plus" social distancing requirements however, the Government has faced increasing calls from businesses to allow them to trade freely in the months to come.

A Government source told Sky News​: "This is the killer argument and no decision has been made. A lot rests on it for some businesses – the difference between being viable and not."

A second senior Whitehall source confirmed to the news organisation that no decision had been made on the rule. 

Loungers' boss Alex Reilley tweeted his frustration at the idea of social distancing requirements continuing long-term.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned yesterday (Monday 15 February) that the vaccination programme would not be "100% effective", hinting at the perseverance of other virus-tackling measures.

He said: "If you have loads of people, even young people, getting the disease then a couple of things happen – first of all, a higher risk of new variants and mutations within the population where the disease is circulating.

"Secondly, there is greater risk of the disease spreading into older groups again. Even though vaccines are effective and great, no vaccination programme is 100% effective.

"When you have a large volume, a lot of disease, inevitably a lot of people will suffer."

15.10 - 88% of operators need furlough extension announcement now, according to poll

Almost nine in 10 businesses need the Government to announce any continuation to the furlough scheme now rather than in the Budget next month, a survey has found.

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The Hospitality Leaders Poll, conducted by Lumina Intelligence on behalf of The Morning Advertiser​, MCA​, Big Hospitality​ and Restaurant ​surveyed 156 operators across the sector.

An extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is one of the measures trade bodies are calling for at the Budget​ on 3 March.

UKHospitality has urged the Chancellor to continue to furlough scheme until the end of June.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

13.29 - Plans to extend eviction ban for commercial tenants, report suggests

The Government intends to extend protections for commercial property tenants, according to a report in The Times​.

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The newspaper has reported ministers are consulting with the property, retail and hospitality sectors on how best to extend the rent moratorium.

It reports the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) will clarify new rules about evictions and rent collection ahead of the present moratorium's expiry at the end of March.

13.10 - Get in touch with your story

The Morning Advertiser ​is looking to speak to operators about the impact of having to pay pension and National Insurance contributions for furloughed staff.

12.37 - Pubco bosses call on Chancellor to aid 'sustainable recovery'

More than 160 CEOs from across the hospitality sector have signed a letter to the Chancellor pleading for further support from the upcoming Budget.

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak is to outline his Budget on 3 March, with pub company bosses eager to see measures such as the reduced VAT rate and business rates holiday extended beyond the spring.

Pubs and restaurants helped the country recover from the financial crisis in 2008 and can help the country “bounce back” from the coronavirus “in a safe and responsible way," CEOs said.

10.48 - April outdoor opening ‘not economically feasible’

The rumoured reopening of hospitality venues for outdoor use only in April with indoor areas allowed from May has been slammed by the trade, alongside calls for the Government to be honest and open in its approach for a roadmap out of lockdown three.

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Over the weekend (Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 February), various national publications reported the Government was considering plans to allow pubs to serve in external areas from Easter before permitting inside service a month later.

Many of those in the trade took to social media to voice their frustration about the impact this will have on the industry alongside claims the Government was "leaking" this information to test public opinion.

UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls said: “Keeping indoor areas closed until May and only allowed the use of outdoor areas is going to be economically unviable for many businesses."

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

10.24 - 'Most critical two weeks for hospitality'

Night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord has said the next fortnight is "critical" for the sector.

The Prime Minister is to unveil his plans for easing lockdown on 22 February while Chancellor Rishi Sunak will outline his Budget on 3 March.

Monday 15 February, 10.15 - 'No plans' for domestic vaccine passports 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has downplayed rumours that the hospitality sector could require 'vaccine passports'.

image: Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street
image: Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street

Some newspapers have reported the Government is considering a scheme that could see customers able to present proof they have had a vaccine before entering a shop or restaurant.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told LBC​: “It's under consideration, but of course you've got to make it workable.

"I'm not sure there's a foolproof answer in the way that sometimes it's presented, but of course we'll look at all the options."

There has been debate about whether employers should require their workers to have the vaccine. 

However, Hancock told BBC Radio 4's Today​ programme there are no plans to require a vaccine passport for certain activities.

He said: "There are countries around the world who are proposing in the future, not now but in the future, that they will require proof of vaccination to allow entry and if they do that we obviously want to make sure that Brits can fulfil that.

"And there is a live international debate and work on how you can have credible proof that somebody has had a vaccine. And obviously we are part of that.

"That's for international travel, we don't have any plans for that at home."

Related topics: Legislation

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