HALF of pubs won’t be back in business until mid-May because they don’t have beer gardens
- Pubs will be able to open for outdoor service from April 12, indoor from May 17
- Bosses slammed the delay, warning the slow easing will devastate the industry
- Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, claimed that the closure of indoor service until May ‘will cost our sector £1.5 billion’
Less than half of pubs have beer gardens meaning that many will not be back in business until mid-May, industry bosses have revealed, sparking fears of a £1.5billion black hole.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that outdoor and takeaway drinks will be permitted from April 12 – though indoor service won’t be given the green light until May 17.
The pub industry has reacted with misery at the news, with many calling for additional financial support for the sector.
Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UKHospitality, said less than half of all hospitality venues had outdoor seating areas, suggesting many pubs and restaurants would remain shut until mid-May.
Clive Watson, the chief executive of the City Pub group, added: ‘Obviously, I’d have liked it to be a bit earlier but I think it gives us a roadmap out of this disaster.
‘It’s going to be a long road to recovery. Fortunately over two thirds of our pubs do have decent beer gardens so in that sense we’re fortunate but there’s going to be a lot of pubs and restaurants in city centres with no outdoor spaces like beer gardens or pavement space and they will probably remain closed.
‘A few will do takeaways but on the whole they will remain closed. So, for them it’s not really April 12 it’s May 17 when they can start opening their doors.’
After the roadmap was unveiled, Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, claimed that the closure of indoor service until May ‘will cost our sector £1.5 billion’.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that outdoor and takeaway drinks will be permitted from April 12 – though indoor service won’t be given the green light until May 17
Boris Johnson also said that any visits to a pub or restaurant will have to comply with the rules on social contact, so no more than two households or the rule of six, even after May
Boris Johnson also said that any visits to a pub or restaurant will have to comply with the rules on social contact, so no more than two households or the rule of six, even after May.
It won’t be until June that these rules will be lifted, provided infection rates continue to stay low and the UK’s vaccination drive maintains its pace.
Reacting to the roadmap, Ms Nicholls called on the government to extend financial support for the pub industry.
She said: ‘This delay in reopening will make the job of survival all the more difficult for businesses only just clinging on to existence.
‘When we can open, our businesses are going to be facing severe restrictions. Only 40 per cent of hospitality businesses have an outdoor area and, in some cases, this is little more than a table and a couple of chairs. Outdoor only opening initially just does not work for huge numbers of businesses.
‘An extension of the VAT cut and business rates holiday must be confirmed along with a targeted extension of the furlough scheme.’
Mr Watson also said that pubs would be barely above ‘breaking even’.
He added: ‘It really depends on the size of the beer garden but in a lot of cases, no [pubs will not be able to operate profitably]. If you’ve got a decent beer garden and you’ve got a lot of footfall outside your pub for takeaway trade then yes, you should be able to trade profitably. But it will be barely above break even.
‘The good thing about April 12 is that you’ll get pubs open and get them ready for May 17 when people are allowed inside and June 21 when all the restrictions come off.’
Michael Kill, of the Night Time Industries Association, said: ‘Our evidence suggests that 85 per cent of those who work in the night-time economy are considering leaving the sector. The sector urgently needs additional clarity on reopening and critical financial support from the chancellor if we are to avoid economic and social damage that will last a generation.’
The British Beer & Pub Association warned only last week how nearly 30,000 pubs could be forced to remain shut until a full reopening, with punters allowed inside venues.
Clive Watson, the chief executive of the City Pub group, warned of a ‘long road to recovery’ from the ‘disaster’
The British Beer & Pub Association warned only last week how nearly 30,000 pubs could be forced to remain shut until a full reopening, with punters allowed inside venues
This would mean around two thirds of pubs may not be able to reopen.
Responding, Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: ‘Today we were looking for a clear roadmap out of lockdown for our sector and an indication of the dates when we could fully reopen and operate viably, again.
‘Whilst we have received earliest possible dates for reopening, our sector will continue to face severe restrictions that limit their business and stop them from being viable. The reality is debt is mounting and many pubs simply won’t be able to hold out to April or May and will close for good before any door gets open.
‘Outdoor service only from April 12th will likely mean that 3 in 5 pubs across the UK will remain closed. That’s 29,000 pubs still not able to open either because they don’t have any outdoor space or simply because they will not be commercially sustainable. Because of this, the majority of pubs will not reopen until May 17th at the earliest, meaning that they will have been closed for almost 8 months.
‘It will mean just 17% of our pubs’ capacity will open from April. That will cost our sector £1.5 billion.
‘The Government must now plug that £1.5 billion hole for our sector with vital support in the Budget next week if thousands of pubs are now to survive.
‘It is imperative that pubs who do try to reopen with outdoor service only are also offered support. Their business will not only be severely restricted by reduced capacity, but also the highly unreliable British weather.
‘Last year we saw almost 2,000 pubs close for good – that’s 5 pubs every day closed forever. We cannot let this happen again in 2021. Local pubs play a vital community role by providing wonderful and regulated places where we can safely meet with our families and friends – something we are all longing to do again soon.’
The road map to recovery: The PM’s plan sees pubs shut until at least April 12 after Easter
Earlier Tory MPs and pub industry leaders had demanded Mr Johnson move quicker to open venues before Easter.
Former Conservative Party leader, Iain Duncan Smith, said he is calling on Boris Johnson to ‘review’ the opening dates for pubs.
He tweeted: ‘The hospitality sector is a very big employer of the poorest in society, who have suffered most in the crisis, and half of those businesses are talking about closing.
I’ve asked Boris Johnson to review again the dates for reopening up the inside of pubs and restaurants.’
The COVID Recovery Group of Tory backbenchers were already unsatisfied with details of the PM’s roadmap to recovery briefed over the weekend.
At least 40 MPs led by the CRG’s Mark Harper and Steve Baker told him to speed up the process.
MP Tim Loughton questioned why pubs were not opening earlier.
He said: ‘Good news on schools, care homes and outdoor sport but surely we can open pub gardens up in time for the Easter Bank Holiday weekend and not keep wedding couples waiting until May 17th even for a slimmed down event?’
And Essex pub landlord Adam Brooks appeared to be stunned by the announcement.
He said: ‘I said pubs would open in April, I was wrong. I could never have imagined the destruction of an industry on this scale,from a Conservative Government.
‘Outdoor opening with our weather is not being open. It will be a scatter of the odd day taking money and others costing more.’