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Tier 2 restrictions will ‘decimate’ pubs without further support

British Beer and Pub Association chief Emma McClarkin said the measures will leave ‘most pubs fighting for their very survival’.

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Socially distanced drinkers in a pub

Tougher coronavirus restrictions will “decimate” pubs unless they receive further government support, an industry body has warned.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) said the Tier 2 Covid-19 measures – which ban households from mixing indoors – could lead to permanent closures in the sector.

It came as Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that London, along with Essex, Elmbridge in Surrey, Barrow-in-Furness, York, North East Derbyshire, Erewash and Chesterfield will move into the second tier of restrictions from Saturday.

Despite the fears of the sector, it is understood that senior Government officials believe that for lockdowns to work, bars and restaurants must be included in the measures.

Some 3,640 pubs and 7,556 restaurants across London will be affected, according to analysis of official government data by real estate adviser Altus Group.

BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said the tighter measures will leave “most pubs fighting for their very survival”.

In a statement on Thursday, she said: “Tier 2 restrictions will decimate pubs, brewers and their supply chains in these regions unless a proper package of support is given to them.

“All pubs are already particularly struggling due to the current restrictions of the 10pm curfew, Rule of Six and low consumer confidence exacerbated by low footfall caused by a lack of tourists and commuters.

Coronavirus – Mon Oct 12, 2020
The restrictions could result in the permanent closure of some pubs, the BBPA warned (Danny Lawson/PA)

“Tier 2 measures mean pubs can remain open, but households cannot mix inside them.

“This completely kills our pubs’ business model, making many of them totally unviable, yet under Tier 2 restrictions they are not eligible for any additional financial support from Government, unlike in Tier 3 where additional support is provided.”

Brewers and pubs’ supply chain partners will also be affected, she added.

“Without additional financial support, specifically access to financial grants and a job retention scheme closer to that in Tier 3, many pubs will be closing their doors for good,” Ms McClarkin said.

The warning came as pub chain Marston’s said it is cutting around 2,150 jobs following a drop in trade.

Marston�s job cuts
Marston’s Brewery is axing around 2,150 jobs following a drop in trade (Jacob King/PA)

The firm blamed recent nationwide measures to tackle a surge in coronavirus cases, which has seen curfews placed on hospitality venues, and the closures of sites not serving food in high-risk areas such as Liverpool.

Ms McClarkin said the Government “must now do the right thing” and announce financial support measures to pubs in the affected regions.

Robert Hayton, Altus Group’s head of UK property tax, said: “Further restrictive measures which adversely impact trade, already at far lower levels than before the pandemic, without any discerning targeted support, could be the death knell.”

City Pub Group boss Clive Watson said he expected trade to drop by 40% under the Tier 2 measures, which he described as “the worst of both worlds” for the industry.

Mr Watson, whose company runs 48 pubs, primarily in London and the south of England, told the PA news agency: “The big crack in the system is we don’t get any furlough as we are not in complete shutdown.

“If you are in this middle tier, it is the worst of both worlds because your trade comes down by 40 to 50%, and if you haven’t got a beer garden its going to go down 70 to 80%, but then you’ve got no Government aid (to support you).”

Coronavirus – Sat Jul 4, 2020
Pubs need further Government support, the BBPA said (Yui Mok/PA)

Meanwhile, Alex Wolpert, founder of the gin and whisky distillery East London Liquor Company, said the announcement was “devastating”, and called for “tailor-made” support for the hospitality sector.

He told the PA news agency: “The hospitality sector has become the whipping boys for the Government, we’re not trusted to be responsible and safe with our customers and as a result we’ve been punished the hardest.

“We opened our east London bar in the second week of July and our customers were kept safe and all the guidelines were adhered to.

“I hope we don’t see London’s pubs and restaurants go under as a result of this, but it does look like the final straw.”

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