The beer and pub sector has urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson reopen the sector as soon as possible.
They say pubs need to reopen as soon as it is safe to do so to provide a safe place for people to socialise and drink in, as well as connect as a community once more.
The hospitality and on-trade have been one of the most adversely affected sectors by the impact of the pandemic, restrictions on trade and lockdowns saw sales of beer in pubs plummet by 56% in 2020 a decline of £7.8 billion.
The restrictions and closure of pubs has had an negative effect on communities across the UK too, with many losing their heart of the community and social hub.
Key findings in in a survey entitled “The Open Arms Report” revealed that 64% of respondents felt that the pub is one of the main places that people living in the local area can socialise.
The research, conducted by Loughborough University, also revealed that 86% of those surveyed think that when a local pub closes the whole community can suffer, highlighting the key role pubs play in the UK in providing people, from all walks of life, with a space to come together for interaction and connection.
Dr Thomas Thurnell-Read, a senior lecturer at Loughborough University and author of the report, said: “The Open Arms Report was guided by the belief that pubs can, and often do, have a social value beyond their economic role. Pubs can be really important settings for social activities beyond the home and the workplace, a place where people can feel a connection with others.”
“The report reveals that for many, going to the local pub is an opportunity to get out of the house and have a conversation. This social contact, and the sense of connection and community it provides, has been under threat during the Covid-19 pandemic, and protecting the social role of pubs is now more important than ever.”
Ahead of the Prime Minister’s roadmap to reopening speech later today the beer and pub industry has been extremely vociferous on the need for pubs to reopen alongside non-essential retail once the most vulnerable in society have been vaccinated.
Emma McClarkin, BBPA’s Chief Executive, said, “The Great British Pub has always been more than just a place to drink. It is where we go to connect. It is where we go to form community.
“For many, the only conversation they get sometimes is the one they have in the pub.
“Lockdown has undoubtedly had a significant impact on the wellbeing and mental health of all of us. Our pubs can play a leading role in bringing us back together once more, safely, in a controlled and regulated environment.
“As a community support centre, our sector is part of the solution in fighting this virus. I urge the Prime Minister to do all he can to keep the doors open of the Great British Pub ahead of announcing his roadmap.”
Supporting the BBPA, Elaine Hindal, Chief Executive of Drinkaware, said, “Lockdown has been a challenge for everyone and our research has indicated in the early stages of the pandemic (late March to June) when lockdown restrictions were at their height, 26% of all drinkers reported drinking more at home than normal. As restrictions eased, and people were able to get out and about, this fell to 15%.
‘We are particularly concerned for people who already drank at ‘higher risk’ levels pre-pandemic and who have increased their drinking still more throughout lockdown. Almost half of these drinkers drink at home alone at least weekly, and drink to cope with stress and anxiety or to relieve boredom, or simply for something to do.
“For these drinkers, pubs provide a safer and regulated place in which to enjoy a drink in moderation and an important opportunity to be with others in a socially-distanced and safe setting. Pubs reopening once more have a key role to play in encouraging and ensuring moderate drinking.”