Pub Trade Dismayed At Government Backsliding On Reopening Restrictions

Representatives of the UK’s pub industry have today written to the Prime Minister to express their incredulity at the Government’s stealthy backsliding on pub reopening rules. Trade bodies UKHospitality (UKH), the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) have stated their outrage by the threat of more impositions on pub businesses.

Despite the ‘cautious’ approach to restarting the economy the industry had been relieved to hear that all restrictions would be removed by June 21st. However, it now seems the hospitality industry could be burdened with vaccine passports, over-complicated test & trace rules and an inability not able to take payments indoors at reopening – a triple whammy for hard-pressed publicans who have been forcibly closed for months.

The review into Covid Status Certification, led by Michael Gove, looks likely to recommend that pubs and other hospitality venues must demand immunity proof from people, to allow them to enter – with the threat of fines for venues if non-compliant. This could prevent millions of young people visiting the pub for months, unless they get themselves tested in advance.

The Government has also announced that all customers will need to sign into the pub on entry, rather than just one member of the group as was previously the case. This will add more confusion and inconvenience for customers and staff.

For reopening on April 12th, for outdoor services only, Government has refused to confirm that payment at the bar will be permitted. This means that customers returning to their local may be unable to make payment in outdoor spaces. This will be an even bigger problem for rural pubs with poor connectivity levels yet it is deemed safe to take payment inside in all shops and in non-licensed cafes and other venues from this point.

In a joint statement, the pub representatives said: “Government has promised the country that we will be reopening but we are now being told that this will be with our hands tied behind our backs. Pubs will already be trading at a loss when they reopen with all the existing restrictions and COVID-secure measures in place.  Adding further disproportionate and discriminatory measures threatens the very survival of thousands of businesses. It’s unfair to single out our sector again with these added impractical burdens that will have economic consequences and risk our recovery.

“We want to trade our way back to prosperity, not rely on state handouts but if Government insists on restricting our ability to trade then they will need to stump up more business support. We need to see a further extension of the business rates holiday through to October and more furlough support to save the millions of jobs we support.”