The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), the leading trade association representing brewers and pubs, has today responded to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on his roadmap to reopening.
In his announcement on the Government’s planned roadmap for reopening, the Prime Minister said outdoor hospitality will only be allowed to open from 12 April at the earliest, alongside non-essential retail, followed by indoor reopening with restrictions 5 weeks later at the earliest, on 17 May.
Emma McClarkin, BBPA's Chief Executive, said, “Today we were looking for a clear roadmap out of lockdown for our sector and an indication of the dates when we could fully reopen and operate viably, again.
“Whilst we have received earliest possible dates for reopening, our sector will continue to face severe restrictions that limit their business and stop them from being viable. 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.
“Outdoor service only from April 12th will likely mean that 3 in 5 pubs across the UK will remain closed. That’s 29,000 pubs still not able to open either because they don’t have any outdoor space or simply because they will not be commercially sustainable. Because of this, the majority of pubs will not reopen until May 17th at the earliest, meaning that they will have been closed for almost 8 months.
“It will mean just 17% of our pubs’ capacity will open from April. That will cost our sector £1.5 billion.'
McClarkin continued, “The Government must now plug that £1.5 billion hole for our sector with vital support in the Budget next week if thousands of pubs are now to survive.
“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. Our sector will need more grant support until pubs can fully reopen, as well as furlough extended to save jobs for pubs not able to open in April.
'Even when they open in May, pubs will need help on their long road to recovery through an extension of the VAT cut and Business Rates relief – as well as a beer duty cut. The recovery will take much longer than expected and we will need this support for 12-24 months.
'This support will need to be extended to brewers and supply chain partners who are relying on the timely reopening of pubs as they depend on them for trade.'
McClarkin went on, “It is imperative that pubs who do try to reopen with outdoor service only are also offered support. Their business will not only be severely restricted by reduced capacity, but also the highly unreliable British weather.
“The Government must also stick to 21st June as the end date for social distancing restrictions. This will increased pubs’ economic viability in being able to make good trade for the rest of the year and give the hospitality sector some much needed certainty.
“Returning to work and offices also remains unclear, which is of huge concern for those pubs reliant on such trade. We need the Government to clarify and encourage a timely return to return to work and help boost consumer confidence to re-emerge.
“Without these measures, thousands of pubs will be at risk of closing for good, along with hundreds of thousands of jobs and livelihoods being lost forever right at the last hurdle of this crisis.'
McClarkin concluded, “Last year we saw almost 2,000 pubs close for good – that’s 5 pubs every day closed forever. We cannot let this happen again in 2021. Local pubs play a vital community role by providing wonderful and regulated places where we can safely meet with our families and friends – something we are all longing to do again soon.'