Sky Sports and BT Sport suspend service for pubs closed under new restrictions
2 December 2020
Tiers and restrictions – The Lock In podcast
2 December 2020

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has said 12,600 – just over one quarter of pubs in Britain – will reopen today, according to a membership survey.

Pub operators also reported they were considering closing again if they could not make business under tier two food rules work.

It has called for support for English pubs to be increased to match that on offer to Welsh businesses.

Emma McClarkin, BBPA chief executive, said: “Of course, these pubs are looking forward to warmly welcoming customers and their communities back once more. It is just a shame so few of them are allowed to re-open and make a good go of it under the harsh new restrictions they now face. 

“For those pubs that are reopening, some fear they could close again as soon as this week because they expect trade to be so low.  

“Having invested £500 million in safety measures to ensure they are Covid-secure, it is ridiculous so many of our pubs are being forced to remain closed unfairly.  

“It is clear the meagre £1,000 one off payment for pubs this Christmas isn’t going to be anywhere near enough to save those who simply cannot open or are completely unviable because of Government restrictions.”

News that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been approved as safe to use in UK from next week has been met with delight by the hospitality trade.

The sector is pushing for further financial support from Government as it braces for months of continued restrictions.

14.02 – How many pubs will stay closed in December? 

Some 50,000 licensed outlets may have to remain closed as national lockdown restrictions end today (Wednesday 2 December) and tiered measures begin.

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The latest Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners highlighted the challenges facing the hospitality sector, despite the Government’s ‘meagre’ grant support for wet-led businesses.

The research states that just 2,227 licensed venues – 2% of the total – are in tier one areas of England.

More than a third (36,648 – 39%) are in tier three, where venues must close and can only operate a takeaway service.

The remaining 55,502 (59%) are in tier two and are only able to serve alcohol alongside a “substantial meal”.

13.12 – ‘Outrageous’ rules on drinking in venues

Operators have said it “beggars belief” that cinema-goers will be allowed to order just alcohol while pub goers must eat-in when lockdown laws lift.

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Under England’s new coronavirus rules, pubs in tier two areas can only reopen if they serve table meals with alcoholic drinks from tomorrow (Wednesday 2 December).

However, post-lockdown legislation states the meal requirement does not apply “where alcohol is being provided to a customer at a cinema, theatre, concert hall or sportsground.”

It also does not apply when “the alcohol is ordered by, and served to, a customer who has a ticket for an exhibition of a film, a performance or an event of training or competition at the venue, to consume in the area where the audience is seated to watch the exhibition, performance or event.”

Pub operators said they have been unfairly targeted, with heavier restrictions than other sectors, despite their investment into health and safety protocols.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), said: “It’s outrageous you can have a pint in a theatre, concert hall, cinema or sports ground without a substantial meal, but not the pub. It is a slap in the face of pubs and brewers.”

13.02 – ‘Odd rules’ 

11.29 – ‘British beer and pubs may become a thing of the past’

A stark warning has been issued by Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company, with its VP corporate affairs Bruce Ray calling for an urgent beer duty cut to help brewers.

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Ray criticised the £1,000 grants announced for wet pubs and said much more needs to be done to support the pub and beer industry in the UK.

He suggested heavy rules for pubs meant a risk of socialising in unsafe environments, such as private homes, increasing.

He said: “We understand the governments in the UK countries have faced many difficult decisions as they seek to tackle the spread of Coronavirus, but it seems unfair that hospitality is being targeted so specifically, and with no concrete evidence.

“As brewers, we don’t understand the rationale for administrations encouraging congregation in unregulated premises over Christmas, when similar gatherings in regulated, safe environments in pubs and restaurants are massively restricted. Following the vote on tiers in England, we do remain steadfast that the only solution to this for breweries and pubs is to reopen our venues to drinkers. Beer has suffered immensely during this time as draught beer, and especially cask beer, can only be sold in pubs. The offer of a £1,000 payment is nothing in the context of what pubs will lose over this busy trading period.

“Thousands of pints are being literally tipped down the drain and breweries closed due to no demand. In addition, we are urgently asking the Chancellor to give a significant excise duty cut to beer in the budget due in March to prevent the 2,500 UK breweries having to make some very difficult decisions, assuming they get to March. The UK community needs pubs and beer; the supply-chain from farmers to glass manufacturers, to consumers, need pubs and beer; yet British beer and pubs may become a thing of the past.”

11.14 – What financial support is available to Britain’s pubs this winter?

The MA​ has summed up what funding is available for pubs across the UK.

Scotland Pubs restrictions

10.44 – How long should diners stay at a pub?

The Morning Advertiser (MA) u​nderstands the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) stance on how long pubgoers should stay at a venue is that they should leave once finished eating.

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There is no prescribed limit for how long a meal is expected to take, according to BEIS.

However, the department expects diners to act in a sensible way to reduce the spread of coronavirus and leave once they have finished the meal.

Limiting the length of time people stay in a venue to the length of time taken to a eat a meal will reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission, the department said.

BEIS expects venues to take reasonable steps if needed to ensure customers comply with “the spirit of the regulations”.

10.21 – Tier 1 and tier 2 pubs reopen 

Despite restrictions, many tier two pubs have shared their joy at being able to reopen today. Here’s what pubs reopening today are saying on social media.

Wednesday 2 December, 10.08 – New rules for English pubs as thousands remain closed

The Government won its vote on the new system of coronavirus rules last night, meaning the rules came into force at one minute past midnight today.

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The hospitality is set to lose £8bn of revenue in December and bear £0.3bn of costs of closure and restricted trading, according to UKHospitality.

Just 729 pubs will be able to reopen under the most relaxed tier one rules while 20,813 pubs fall under tier two measures. Some 16,010 pubs will not be permitted to reopen at all under tier three, according to real estate adviser Altus Group.

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