Takeaway beer ban branded 'soul destroying' as pubs call for urgent rethink

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Takeaway beer ban branded 'soul destroying' as pubs call for urgent rethink

Related tags lockdown Coronavirus Beer Pub

A ban on pubs in England selling takeaway drinks during the forthcoming November lockdown has been branded 'soul destroying', with industry voices calling for the Government to rethink the measure.

According to Government guidelines published on Saturday (31 October), while pubs, restaurants and bars will be able to operate takeaway food and delivery services during the lockdown period, which is due to commence on Thursday (5 October)​, takeaway of alcohol will not be allowed.

The restriction represents a marked contrast to the first lockdown that took place in the spring, where takeaway pints were allowed; a move that was credited with helping many hard-hit pubs stay afloat during the shutdown. 

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 's Today​ programme this morning (2 October), Jonathan Neame, chief executive of the Shepherd Neame brewery, described the new measures as 'soul-destroying'.

"During lockdown one there was terrific support for local pubs from local communities," he said.

"People want their pubs, they came back in droves. They want to see the pubs survive and thrive.

"They want them to be there for their children's generation so they bought into the take home thing.

"Now we're told that all the beer that is in pub cellars, we can't even sell a pint of ale as a takeaway with a meal during lockdown, so we've got to tip that all down the drain."

The new rule has also been slammed by industry bodies including the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), which has written to the Cabinet Office to demand the removal of the restriction.

CAMRA national chairman Nik Antona said: “Offering alcohol for takeaway was a lifeline for many pubs, and particularly breweries, during the first lockdown in England.

"It is a baffling and damaging decision to remove this option, particularly when other businesses such as supermarkets can continue to sell takeaway alcohol.

“Pubs and breweries were already reporting losses and the risk of closure before Christmas, and this will only add to the risk of permanent closures within the next few months.

"CAMRA and the entire pub and brewery industry are now urging the Government to reverse this bizarre decision and ensure the survival of our pubs and breweries.

“We are encouraging all concerned consumers to write to their MP and request the scrapping of the takeaway sales ban to give pubs and brewers in England a better chance of surviving the lockdown.

"This also needs to be accompanied with a sector-specific support package to avoid permanent closures, otherwise the damage to communities across the country will be irreparable.”

Meanwhile Sacha Lord, night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, has questioned the logic of the ban.

Writing on Twitter​ earlier today, he said: "As it stands, why are supermarkets allowed to sell as much alcohol as they want, yet restaurants who have adapted to takeaways and previously been able to sell alcohol, are now being told they can’t.

"That needs urgently reviewing with more clarity."

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