The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), the leading trade association representing brewers and pubs, has today responded to reports that local, stricter lockdown measures could be placed on the North of England – forcing pubs and other hospitality businesses to close again. The trade association has said that the introduction of the rumoured local lockdown, as part of a new tiering system, in the North of England could destroy pubs there. It would be on top of what is already a very challenging period for the sector with the 10pm curfew and rule of six, plus service limited to tables, resulting in a huge reduction in consumer confidence. The trade association is asking the Government for evidence-based, proportionate measures – calling into question the effectiveness local lockdowns on pubs will have in stopping the spread of the virus. It notes that no hard evidence has been given yet to suggest that pubs, with their strict adherence to Government guidelines, are unsafe, making it unclear if such blanket measures will make a major difference.
However, the BBPA says that whatever the additional restrictions the Government decides to implement are, they must be accompanied by additional and adequate financial support from the Government too. This it says would be crucial for pub businesses who could be forced to close again, which would push many of them to breaking point and force them to lay off staff, write off stock and cover fixed costs with low or no revenue at all in a bid for survival.
According to the BBPA, the Job Support Scheme set to replace the Job Retention Scheme in October was already not fit for purpose to save jobs. It certainly won’t protect jobs in pubs facing a local lockdown. It is urging the Government to act fast and pull together a comprehensive support package to ensure jobs are saved and pubs do not close their doors for good in communities facing a local lockdown.
Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “Make no mistake, a local lockdown without immediate additional and adequate support will destroy many pubs. “Our sector is already facing the 10pm curfew, rule of six, table service only and low levels of consumer confidence, meaning many are already struggling to stay open. A local lockdown would push many to breaking point – forcing them to close for good with countless jobs lost, impacting livelihoods and communities forever. “We are still yet to see the hard evidence in England that blanket measures to lock down pubs, with their strict adherence to Government guidelines, will significantly stop the spread of the virus. Statistics citing that a proportion of people who test positive as having visited hospitality venues in recent weeks is not evidence in itself of greater risk. “What we do know is if pubs are closed people will gather in homes or outside to drink, where there are no social distancing measures in place or the NHS track and trace system.
“As a result, we are calling on the Government for an evidence based, proportionate response that recognises pubs are a regulated and safe place for people to socialise in – part of the solution in managing COVID-19 and supporting jobs and the economy. “If the Government is really going to press ahead with the introduction of further restrictions, it needs to ensure it puts forward an additional and adequate financial package of support for our sector. “Quite simply, the Job Support Scheme is not fit for purpose to save jobs in businesses facing a local lockdown. Proper measures need to be taken, as they were in the Job Retention Scheme, if jobs are going to be saved. Grants will also be needed for businesses impacted by local lockdowns to survive this period. “On top of this, our sector across the whole of the UK needs an extension to the VAT cut and business rates holiday, and substantial beer duty cut, if it is to have any chance of a recovery.”