Christmas Challenge for Pubs and Brewers as Restrictions Put in Place

The British Beer & Pub Association has today responded to new COVID restrictions announced by the Prime Minister.

The trade association says the new restrictions are a blow to pubs and brewers, just as the busy Christmas season begins, a period which is so vital to their recovery and viability of the sector post-COVID.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister confirmed that England will move to Plan B following the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the UK.

Under the new rules:

  • From Friday, face masks will be required in more public settings – including theatres and cinemas
  • From Monday, people will be asked to work from home where possible
  • From Wednesday, the NHS Covid Pass will also be required for visitors to nightclubs, indoor unseated venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people and any event with more than 10,000 people

Following the announcement UKHospitality, Croydon BID, Boxpark and Mayor of London have joined a call for an urgent review into financial support for the UK’s hospitality sector following the government’s announcement of Plan B restrictions.

The group believes reintroducing the ‘work from home’ guidance will diminish consumer confidence, resulting in widespread cancellations of bookings during the critical festive trading period. It is urging the government to provide financial support to soften the blow to Christmas trading from new covid guidelines by redirecting unspent grants available to the sector or by introducing new alternatives such as a discretionary fund to be administered by local authorities.

The call is further backed by British BIDs, The BID Foundation, Night Time Industries Association and the Association of Town and City Management who together collectively represent over 100,000 hospitality businesses.

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “Make no mistake, this is a huge blow for our sector as it further undermines consumer confidence and is devastating for pubs based near offices and in town centres.

“The festive period is crucial to the recovery of our sector, so these restrictions could not have come at a more important trading time. They threaten the viability of pubs who will lose vital revenue over the Christmas period and so the Government will need to look at providing support.

“We are pleased though that covid-passports are not applicable to the vast majority of pubs, as Government has recognised this would have been totally unworkable. We still need clarifications and to see the detail on other aspects – including on facemasks.

“Its important to remember that pubs are a safe environment with less than 2% of COVID outbreaks traced to hospitality venues. We hope that whilst following the new guidelines, customers continue to visit their local pubs this Christmas to spend quality time with friends and family.”

KHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls, said: “While the government clearly acknowledges that hospitality is safe and can continue to host celebrations in the lead up to Christmas, the measures announced today will significantly impact consumer confidence and be particularly devastating to city and town centre venues. As such, they risk devastating the hospitality sector amid its most important time of the year.  We therefore desperately need support if we are to survive this latest set of restrictions and urge the government to stand behind our industry. That means full business rates relief, grants, rent protection and extended VAT reductions. Anything less would prove catastrophic.”