Hospitality businesses suffered greatly during lockdowns, not only after being fined for breaking ‘ambiguous’ rules, but sales dropped by at least 54% when compared to 2019 after the public were advised to avoid pubs despite them being told to remain open, and turnover dropped by almost £72bn in 2020, according to data from UKHospitality and CGA in January 2021.
Andrea Neal, licensee of the Kings Head in Wadenhoe, Northamptonshire – who lives on site with her family – received £6,500 worth of fines in September 2020 for allowing her children inside the pub so she could speak with them after they had been misbehaving.
Police also claimed the outdoor pods, which provided shelter and seclusion for individual households, were not open enough and Neal was unable to fight the accusations in courts due to having a bleed on her brain at the time.
She said: “It's an absolute shambles. How many more people went [to the suspected parties] who didn’t get caught?
“I’m really angry, not just for me, for the whole country. Everybody tried to do their best, I had a friend that died in in lockdown and there were six people at the funeral, [the parties] make a mockery of it all.
“We did everything we could, put screens on the bar, sanitiser everywhere, everybody wore masks, sanitised everything; it cost me a fortune to be compliant.”
Market Taverns CEO, Richard Peachment, received two fines during December 2020 for the Market Porter pub in Southwark, London.
Both fines were £1,000 each after customers were suspected to have drank from cups while queuing for takeaway beers outside or being seen to be just over the boundaries of the property, which was difficult to monitor due to the market next door to the pub.
Peachment said: “We were struggling to manage the legislation and interpret it, as were the authorities, it was ever-changing legislation for them as well and it was open to different interpretations.
“It was a difficult situation for us to manage and a difficult situation for the police and licencing authorities, perhaps not helped by the ambiguity of the rules.
“I'm sure my thoughts are along the same line as the rest of the country, our industry was working hard to follow the rules and act sensibly and appropriately and it's a shame some of our leadership wasn't.”