lockdown live

• LIVE: Operators eye spring reopening after support extended

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Lockdown live: The Morning Advertiser will bring you the latest coronavirus news for pubs (image: dmbaker, Getty Images)
Lockdown live: The Morning Advertiser will bring you the latest coronavirus news for pubs (image: dmbaker, Getty Images)

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

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

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).

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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.

New restrictions pubs

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.

spring 2021

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.

When-do-pubs-need-to-know-about-a-possible-furlough-extension_wrbm_large

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. 

VAT reduction

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."

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