Pubs to serve '21 million fewer pints' this bank holiday

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Pubs to serve 21 million fewer pints this bank holiday concerns over 21 June restrictions lifting night-time economy

Related tags Coronavirus Night-time economy Pub & bar Bbpa lockdown Social Distancing

Pubs will miss out on £80m worth of pint sales over the bank holiday weekend due to ongoing Coronavirus restrictions, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has warned.

The trade body estimates that Britain’s pubs will serve 21 million fewer pints than normal over the Spring bank holiday, with restrictions currently placed on the sector leading to a 'significant reduction' in the number of customers businesses are able to host.

At present, approximately 95% of the UK’s 47,000 pubs have reopened since the easing of restrictions began in April, however, they continue to face significant restrictions that greatly limit their ability to trade as viable businesses.

These restrictions include table service only, 'one metre plus' social distancing, table sizes of up to six indoors, and no bar service.

According to the BBPA, upwards of 2,000 pubs are still closed, unable to reopen under the current restrictions in place because they are too small to do social distancing or table service only.

The trade body has reiterated its calls for all social distancing measures to be dropped on 21 June as was originally mooted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson when he set out his roadmap out of lockdown back in February​, saying the removal of restrictions is essential to the survival of sector.

“Despite 95% of pubs being open, they cannot stay open and survive under the current restrictions they face," says Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA.

“Revenues for pubs this bank holiday weekend will be £80 million lower than normal when it comes to beer sales. That is a huge amount of money and could be the difference between surviving or thriving for thousands of pubs in communities across the country.

“As more and more people get their vaccine, and if reports continue to suggest that the Indian variant is less prevalent than originally believed, all restrictions must be removed in pubs on 21 June as per the Government’s own roadmap.

“Pubs only have a fighting chance of recovering from more than a year of lockdowns and restrictions if they can fully reopen as normal.”

Growing concern

There's growing concern that the planned lifting of all Coronavirus restrictions on 21 June will be delayed as a result of the growing number of Covid-19 cases linked to the so-called Indian variant.

Yesterday (27 May), Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed that up to three-quarters of new UK Covid cases are now thought to be caused by the variant of concern.

It came as Boris Johnson warned that 'we may need to wait' for the lifting of all Covid restrictions in England.

The Prime Minister said he saw nothing 'currently in the data' to suggest the government would have to delay unlocking, but noted the signs of an increase in cases of the variant.

Fears for the night-time economy

A delay to final stage of the roadmap will further prolong the pain for businesses in the night-time economy, such as nightclubs, many of whom have been forced to remain shut since the onset of the first national lockdown in March last year.

According to a flash survey of members of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), 90% of nightlife operators fear any delay to the full reopening of the night-time economy on 21 June could threaten the survival of their businesses.

Over one third of businesses say they will need at least four weeks’ notice to prepare to reopen or restart their business activity, with 95% of businesses already making financial commitments and logistical preparations to reopen on 21 June.

The Government is expected to make a final decision on whether to go-ahead with the full lifting of restrictions on 14 June; just one week before the final easing is scheduled.

“Our survey shows overwhelmingly that any change to the Government’s roadmap will wreak havoc on nightlife businesses," says Michael Kill, CEO of the NTIA.

"The stark reality for both the industry and for Government is that thousands of businesses risk being plunged into further financial hardship by a deviation from the reopening plan. 

"Businesses have already had to engage staff, order stock, book entertainment and sell tickets, all at a considerable cost. Evidently, the Government has a misguided understanding of the timelines, preparation and operational requirements of our sector, given the ridiculous seven-day notice period they have said they will give ahead of reopening. 

"Operators have asked for a minimum of three weeks to prepare for opening and, as with the events sector, have been forced to take financial risks by investing in preparation for opening, including by needing to recruit staff amid shortages, procure equipment and perform maintenance on their premises.

"Ultimately, the inability to plan could cost operators dearly if we see the date for a full reopening slide."

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