Pub bosses warn that new restrictions will ‘destroy’ sector

Boris Johnson revealed that tightened Tier 2 measures mean venues will only serve alcohol alongside a substantial meal.

Coronavirus – Fri Nov 13, 2020
Coronavirus – Fri Nov 13, 2020

Hospitality bosses have said the Government’s latest pandemic tier system will “destroy the sector” as pubs, bars and restaurants face a raft of tougher measures.

On Monday afternoon, Boris Johnson revealed that tightened Tier 2 measures mean venues will only serve alcohol alongside a substantial meal.

Meanwhile, new Tier 3 measures mean pubs and restaurants will only be able to offer takeaway and delivery services, while indoor entertainment, hotels and other accommodation will close.

Jonathan Neame, chief executive of the Shepherd Neame pub group, told the PA news agency that the restrictions are “devastating”.

Shepherd Neame financials
Chief executive of Shepherd Neame, Jonathan Neame (Shepherd Neame/PA)

“I think it is absolute rotten that they have singled out hospitality in this way,” he told PA. “It makes me sick.”

“I think restrictions should be loosened across all sectors, but to open new sectors again while imposing stricter measures on hospitality, despite no evidence to justify this, is completely maddening.

“We are dealing with real lives in a sector that employs three million people and we are just being pushed aside.”

The Prime Minister also announced that 10pm curfew will be relaxed, with last orders now closed at that time and premises ordered to shut at 11pm.

Rob Pitcher, chief executive of bar chain Revolution, told PA that although the curfew extension was “beneficial”, it would not offset the impact of tighter tiered measures.

“It will make scant difference if large parts of the country are in Tier 2 and Tier 3,” he said.

“Now, Tier 2 is essentially the old Tier 3, while the new Tier 3 is basically just lockdown again.

“Hospitality has been singled out so I am looking forward to seeing Rishi Sunak come forward with a significant package of support to help our businesses.

“If he doesn’t there will be hundreds of perfectly viable businesses going bust.”

Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of Greene King, said: “Yet again, the UK pubs sector must pick itself up off the floor after another crushing blow.

“We’ve invested millions of pounds to make our pubs safe throughout this pandemic but today it feels like pubs have been unfairly singled out once again with increased restrictions that will make pubs across the country unviable through the most important month of the year.”

Greene King financials
Greene King chief Nick Mackenzie said the new tier rules were a “crushing blow” (Greene King/PA)

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), said: “The additional restrictions will destroy our sector if they go ahead as proposed.

“Whilst the review of curfew is overdue the relaxation of the 10pm curfew is meaningless if most pubs are rendered unviable or forced to close under tiers two and three.

“If these tighter tier restrictions are forced upon us, far more Government financial support will be needed to avoid the resulting carnage.

“In Tier 2 alone, the new restrictions will mean 90% of pubs will be unviable and will only be able to operate at a loss.”

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