3 in 5 pubs unlikely to reopen in April

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Mixed emotions: operators have welcomed some clarity on reopening but expressed disappointment at the gradual reopening of hospitality
Mixed emotions: operators have welcomed some clarity on reopening but expressed disappointment at the gradual reopening of hospitality

Related tags lockdown Beer Public house Coronavirus Legislation Beer garden

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

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. 

Restrictions such as the rule of six and table service are to continue until 21 June at the earliest, the Prime Minister outlined yesterday.

BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said it was imperative further support was issued for the sector at the 3 March Budget. 

“The reality is debt is mounting and many pubs simply won’t be able to hold out to April or May and will close for good before any door gets open. 

“The Prime Minister said he will not pull the rug out and do whatever it takes. We will hold both him and the Chancellor to this,” she said.

Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of Greene King, said he was disappointed his sites would not be able to reopen alongside non-essential retail, gyms and hairdressers, in the second stage of the unlocking plan.

Not viable 

He added: “Opening pub gardens in April simply isn’t viable so many pubs will have to remain closed and, with a phased reopening from May, next week’s Budget needs to bring positive news as we continue to burn tens of millions of pounds in cash every month.”

Mackenzie called for further clarity on how pubs would be permitted to return to normal trading from June. 

The Government is to review social distancing and mask requirements ahead of the final stage of the lockdown lifting in the summer, in order to determine ‘the new normal’.

The partial reopening plans have disadvantaged pubs and communities in the country’s most deprived areas, according to night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord.

Lord said: “I extend an open invitation to the Government to visit the north, in particular the most working class areas of Greater Manchester which rely on their local, traditional pubs and social clubs for a sense of community and to stave off isolation and loneliness.

“The vast majority of these pubs do not have beer gardens, a luxury only reserved for middle class areas who have the space and financial capabilities. It is once again the working class who are hardest hit by the decisions coming from Westminster during this pandemic.”

Bringing people together

Brewer and pub operator Shepherd Neame said it would be opening some of its beer gardens from April and all pubs for indoor service from May.

Chief executive of the Kent-based group, Jonathan Neame, was hopeful of a summer free from restrictions on social contact

“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,” Neame said. “We are in the business of bringing people together not keeping them apart.”

Mark Davies, CEO of Hawthorn, the Community Pub Company, welcomed the clarity around reopening timeframes but said there was “little else in this roadmap to be positive about.”

He added: “The sector's enormous investments and efforts to make premises Covid-safe last year have been completely overlooked again, and we find ourselves at the back of the queue for reopening, under conditions which simply won’t work for most pubs.”

Heart ache

While some readers told The Morning Advertiser​ they were excited to be able to reopen even if just outside, others expressed frustration that they would not be able to reopen until May.

Operators welcomed news that the unpopular policies of a curfew and requirement to serve food with alcohol would not return at any stage of the ‘unlocking’. 

Here’s what some have said on social media:

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