‘Some pubs won’t be able to reopen’

The chief executive of pubs group Marston’s says the severity of lockdown means “sadly it’s inevitable” that some pubs will not be able to reopen.

Wolverhampton-based Marston’s had had all its sites shut since the start of the current lockdown on January 6.

Now it has been revealed pubs will be able to open beer gardens from April 12 but won’t be able to reopen indoors until May 17 at the earliest.

Ralph Findlay said the idea of outdoor opening only would mean many pubs without outdoor facilities would be unable to open.

“As a sector we have had no income for nine months and we are still incurring costs,” said Mr Findlay.

He is keen to get on with running the business and says there are economic reasons to reopen pubs as well as social ones.

He stressed that the industry as a whole employs millions of people and Marston’s alone generates about £500 million a year for the Government including from direct and indirect taxes.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is keen for any relaxation of lockdown to be gradual, with any easements set to be “cautious but irreversible”.

Meanwhile the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), is calling on the Government to provide a sustainable, long-term financial package to ensure the future of breweries and pubs.

Landlords in the West Midlands are calling for a targeted support strategy, that will not result in a loss of income when they can reopen to customers.

Bill Whittle and his wife Mandy Whittle own The Bridge Inn pub in Hednesford. Since lockdown forced the pub to close, the couple have spent more than £40,000 refurbishing the pub and ensuring it is Covid-secure.

Bill and Mandy have had to rely on the Government’s support to see them through the last 12 months.

Mr Whittle said: “I am concerned about phased reopening and if strict rules will be introduced again like they were at the end of 2020.”

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