The beer and pub sector has today urged the Prime Minister to keep the doors open of the Great British Pub by enabling it to reopen as soon as possible.
They say pubs need to reopen as soon as it is safe to do so in order to provide a safe place for people to socialise and drink in, as well as connect as a community once more.
As the heart of communities across the UK, they say pubs have a vital role to play as community support centres, particularly as the country recovers from COVID-19 and comes out of lockdown.
The call comes from the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), the leading trade body representing UK brewers and pubs.
The beer and pub sector has been one of the most adversely affected sectors by COVID-19 and the lockdowns. In 2020 alone, a combination of restrictions on trade and lockdowns saw sales of beer in pubs plummet by 56% in 2020 – a decrease of £7.8 billion.
Tens of thousands of pubs are operated as small family businesses, which also double up as a home, meaning despite being successful businesses for decades, pubs could close and many could become homeless through no fault of their own.
The restrictions and closure of pubs has had an adverse effect on communities across the UK too, with many losing their heart of the community and social hub.
Despite this, pubs across the UK have still endeavoured to support their local communities where possible through a range of innovations and initiatives, including virtual pub quizzes, virtual meet and greets and even cooking and supplying food to those most vulnerable in their communities, as well as countless others.
Ahead of the Prime Minister’s roadmap to reopening speech on Monday 22nd February, the beer and pub industry has been very vocal on the need for pubs to reopen alongside non-essential retail once the most vulnerable in society have been vaccinated.
They have also stated that opening pubs outdoor only is not a viable solution because 60% of pubs in the UK – 29,000 – would still not be able to open with countless more likely unable to break even in trade even if they were to reopen.
Britain’s brewers and pubs are hoping the Prime Minister will do the right thing and keep the doors open of this Great British icon.
Emma McClarkin, BBPA's Chief Executive, (pictured) said, “The Great British Pub has always been more than just a place to drink. It is where we go to connect. It is where we go to form community.
“For many, the only conversation they get sometimes is the one they have in the pub.
“Lockdown has undoubtedly had a significant impact on the wellbeing and mental health of all of us. Our pubs can play a leading role in bringing us back together once more, safely, in a controlled and regulated environment.
“As a community support centre, our sector is part of the solution in fighting this virus. I urge the Prime Minister to do all he can to keep the doors open of the Great British Pub ahead of announcing his roadmap.”
Supporting the BBPA, Elaine Hindal, Chief Executive of Drinkaware, said, “Lockdown has been a challenge for everyone and our research has indicated in the early stages of the pandemic (late March to June) when lockdown restrictions were at their height, 26% of all drinkers reported drinking more at home than normal. As restrictions eased, and people were able to get out and about, this fell to 15%.
'We are particularly concerned for people who already drank at ‘higher risk’ levels pre-pandemic and who have increased their drinking still more throughout lockdown. Almost half of these drinkers drink at home alone at least weekly, and drink to cope with stress and anxiety or to relieve boredom, or simply for something to do.
“For these drinkers, pubs provide a safer and regulated place in which to enjoy a drink in moderation and an important opportunity to be with others in a socially-distanced and safe setting. Pubs reopening once more have a key role to play in encouraging and ensuring moderate drinking.”
Christian Wakeford, MP for Bury South, and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Harm, said, “Pubs are the absolute heart of our communities, creating jobs and helping to tackle loneliness and social isolation.
'The hospitality industry has been severely impacted by the effects of the lockdown, and we need to ensure that pubs and restaurants can-reopen in a safe manner and bring back their staff as we emerge from the lockdown.”