Pubs will reopen with 'hands tied behind our backs'

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Reopening regulations: pub trade bodies have written to the Prime Minister outlining their outrage at additional restrictions on the sector (image: Getty/Wavebreakmedia)
Reopening regulations: pub trade bodies have written to the Prime Minister outlining their outrage at additional restrictions on the sector (image: Getty/Wavebreakmedia)

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Pubs have been singled out once more with disproportionate regulations in comparison to other sectors, according to trade associations.

The Government had refused to confirm that payment indoors will be permitted when beer gardens reopen on Monday 12 April, a coalition of sector groups said.

Trade groups UKHospitality (UKH), the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) wrote to the Prime Minister to oppose “added impractical burdens.”

A review into Covid status certification and updated rules surrounding contact-tracing​ will also heap unnecessary restrictions onto the trade as it attempts to recover from multiple lockdowns, the coalition said.

The Government is reviewing vaccine passports​, which could see pubs require customers show proof of vaccination, a negative test result or proof they had recovered from the virus recently and were protected by antibodies.

Newspapers have reported that customers may have to social distance unless they can prove they are protected from the virus with critics saying this could create a "two-tier Britain."

The Prime Minister has previously said operating a scheme may be “up to individual landlords.”

Contact details

The groups also took issue with updated guidance on storing customer details for NHS Test & Trace. Pubs will now have to ask every individual in a group for their details, compared to previously just having to take one lead member’s details. 

In a joint statement, UKH, the BII and the BBPA said: “Government has promised the country that we will be reopening but we are now being told that this will be with our hands tied behind our backs. Pubs will already be trading at a loss when they reopen with all the existing restrictions and Covid-secure measures in place.

"Adding further disproportionate and discriminatory measures threatens the very survival of thousands of businesses. It’s unfair to single out our sector again with these added impractical burdens that will have economic consequences and risk our recovery.”

Support needed

Businesses did not want to “rely on state handouts” but if trading continues to be restricted then the Government will need to provide further support, they said.

The groups called for an additional extension of the business rates holiday through to October and more furlough support to protect jobs.

The Morning Advertiser​ asked the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Cabinet Office to clarify if customers would be allowed to pay indoors when beer gardens reopen on Monday 12 April.

A Government spokesperson said: "We have continued to support the hospitality sector throughout the pandemic, including our new £5 billion Restart Grant scheme, extending the furlough scheme and the VAT cut, and providing 750,000 businesses in hospitality and other sectors with business rates relief.

“Public health rules are kept under constant review and we are providing as much flexibility for pubs and other hospitality businesses as possible. The roadmap set out that hospitality would open from step two, and removed any requirements for curfews or a substantial meal for customers.

“No final decisions have been taken on whether COVID-status certification could play a role in reopening our economy.”

Further details on the relaunch of outdoor hospitality are expected on Monday 5 April, one week prior to the provisional reopening date of Monday 12 April.

An update into the review on vaccine passports, headed by Michael Gove, is also expected on that day.

Related topics: Legislation

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