6pm Curfew And Ban On Alcohol Sales Will Destroy Wales’ Pubs

The hospitality and on trade sector and hit out at the Welsh government’s decision to impose a 6 PM curfew and a ban on alcohol sales in pubs and restaurants from Friday, December 4.

The ban means that all 3,227 pubs in Wales will be severely hit throughout December, the most important trading time of the year. 2,151 community pubs that are drinks led will be forced to close whilst 1,076 pubs that are more food led will be rendered unviable by the ban on alcohol sales and 6pm curfew. Possible takeaway sales will not go anywhere near compensating for this huge loss of business.

The BBPA welcomes the First Minister’s announcement of enhanced grant funding for pubs, to help all those businesses that will be made unviable and forced to close. It says it is important that the detail of this funding is made fully available at the earliest opportunity.

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said:

“Make no mistake, the 6pm curfew and ban on serving alcohol on all 3,227 pubs in Wales will destroy the sector. Evenings are the key trading period for pubs and enjoying a beer, with or without a meal, is one of life’s simple pleasures – forcing pubs to close at 6pm and banning alcohol sales all but closes them down in reality.

“When you factor in that December, with the festive season, is the most important time of the year for pub goers and our sector, this really couldn’t come at a worse time.

“Thankfully the Welsh Government is looking at significantly increasing the financial support on offer to pubs in Wales in recognition that these restrictions will devastate many businesses.

“Such support is an absolute necessity if Welsh pubs and breweries are to survive this Christmas and be there to re-open and help lead the economic recovery in the future. It is vital too that this support gets through current State Aid restrictions so that ALL pubs who need it have access to it.

“The Prime Minister needs to now deliver significantly enhanced financial support to pubs and the wider supply chain in England, if they are going to survive the dire impact of the new tighter tiering restrictions coming into place this week.”

Describing the restrictions as a massive blow, UKHospitality Cymru has however welcomed the swift response by the Welsh Government to provide immediate substantial support for businesses that are being forced to endure devastating new restrictions and closures over the holiday period.

Following UKHC representations, the restrictions have been accompanied by a £340m package of support including an Economic Resilience Fund worth up to £150k per businesses, with hospitality and tourism businesses, and their supply chains, eligible.

UKHospitality Cymru Executive Director David Chapman said: “Let’s be clear: at this time of year, when businesses can trade up to 25 per cent of annual turnover- and above- the new restrictions are a massive blow to hospitality in Wales as well as our loyal customers and workforce as we head towards Christmas and the New Year.

“We feel isolated and feel we are unjustly bearing the brunt of Government actions when retail and other areas are allowed to trade relatively unhindered.

“These businesses have been devastated all year, struggled to stay afloat in the face of diminished consumer confidence and stifling measures and, even with the financial support, this could be a hurdle too many.

“We can take some comfort from the swift response to our direct appeals for vital support by the financial support being offered by the Welsh Government, though. Such severe restrictions necessitated a similarly large package of support to offset the measures and ensure that businesses stay alive and jobs remain open. There are still losers in this package and some of our bigger hotels could still be in inadequately assisted.

“We pushed the Welsh Government very hard on this and they have listened. If they survive, these are businesses that can spearhead the recovery of the Welsh economy next year and beyond.

“We have been heard by Welsh Government on nightclubs along with wedding venues and event and conference centres. It’s a start for these and we will need much more to help keep more jobs open and make the job of recovery that bit easier.

“We are still waiting for the full information on the restrictions and package and there is still a long way to do before the sector is anywhere near to being out of the woods, but the quick and pragmatic approach to support being shown by the Welsh Government will give more businesses a better chance of making it through.”

James Calder, Chief Executive of the Society of Independent Brewers said: “The decision to ban the sale of alcohol in hospitality from Friday will be the final blow for small breweries and pubs in Wales who rely on the Christmas trading period for a substantial percentage of their annual income. There is no evidence to justify these new targeted restrictions.

“Pubs represent more than 80% of all sales for Welsh small breweries and we have seen throughout the Covid crisis that these small businesses have been left out in the cold and not had access to the level of financial support they need. Without real, targeted support many small breweries will not survive the winter period.”