UK

Disappointment for pub industry as PM says they cannot open until after Easter

The race was on for drinkers this afternoon as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced he would open up beer gardens from April 12.

Leaders in the sector had hoped for the PM to inject some fizz into bars and drinking venues and open them up fully by Easter after the success of the UK’s huge vaccination programme. 

Nearly 30,000 pubs could stay shut in April 

Nearly two thirds of pubs in the UK will remain closed even if they allowed to do outdoor service, an industry association has warned.

The British Beer & Pub Association say a reduction in coronavirus rules in April may not save an estimate 60% of pubs, equivalent to 29,000.

BBPA leaders want pubs to be able to re-open fully in tandem with any relaxation in non-essential retail.

 It reckons just 17% of pubs will open and even they will struggle.

BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: ‘This would result in a loss of turnover to the sector of £1.5bn when compared to trading in normal times. That is far from reopening and recovering.’

 It came as sales of alcohol per adult dropped by 6% in the early part of lockdown, a new study has shown.

Research by Public Health Scotland and the University of Glasgow found the drop in Scotland as well as England and Wales between mid-March and July 11 last year.

But they were given a consolation prize in the 3.30pm announcement, which said outdoor drinks or takeaway would be permitted from April 12.

The news prompted a scramble to book a space outdoors to enjoy a pub-pulled pint for the the first time this year.

It will be over a full month later on May 17 before the government will even consider relaxing restrictions on indoor hospitality.

The hated – and widely derided curfew and ‘substantial meal’ rules – will not return after lockdown.

The Prime Minister declared ‘the scotch egg debate will be over’ in reference to the food regulation, which was mocked after ministers said the small snack was a meal. 

Earlier Tory MPs and pub industry leaders had demanded Mr Johnson move quicker to open venues before Easter.

Responding, Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: ‘Today we were looking for a clear roadmap out of lockdown for our sector and an indication of the dates when we could fully reopen and operate viably, again.

‘Whilst we have received earliest possible dates for reopening, our sector will continue to face severe restrictions that limit their business and stop them from being viable. The reality is debt is mounting and many pubs simply won’t be able to hold out to April or May and will close for good before any door gets open.

‘Outdoor service only from April 12th will likely mean that 3 in 5 pubs across the UK will remain closed. That’s 29,000 pubs still not able to open either because they don’t have any outdoor space or simply because they will not be commercially sustainable. Because of this, the majority of pubs will not reopen until May 17th at the earliest, meaning that they will have been closed for almost 8 months.

‘It will mean just 17% of our pubs’ capacity will open from April. That will cost our sector £1.5 billion.

‘The Government must now plug that £1.5 billion hole for our sector with vital support in the Budget next week if thousands of pubs are now to survive. 

‘It is imperative that pubs who do try to reopen with outdoor service only are also offered support. Their business will not only be severely restricted by reduced capacity, but also the highly unreliable British weather. 

‘Last year we saw almost 2,000 pubs close for good – that’s 5 pubs every day closed forever. We cannot let this happen again in 2021. Local pubs play a vital community role by providing wonderful and regulated places where we can safely meet with our families and friends – something we are all longing to do again soon.’

Former Conservative Party leader, Iain Duncan Smith, said he is calling on Boris Johnson to ‘review’ the opening dates for pubs.

He tweeted: ‘The hospitality sector is a very big employer of the poorest in society, who have suffered most in the crisis, and half of those businesses are talking about closing. 

I’ve asked Boris Johnson to review again the dates for reopening up the inside of pubs and restaurants.’

The COVID Recovery Group of Tory backbenchers were already unsatisfied with details of the PM’s roadmap to recovery briefed over the weekend.  

The British Beer & Pub Association warned only last week how nearly 30,000 pubs could be forced to remain shut until a full reopening, with punters allowed inside venues. 

This would mean around two thirds of pubs may not be able to reopen.

At least 40 MPs led by the CRG’s Mark Harper and Steve Baker told him to speed up the process.

MP Tim Loughton questioned why pubs were not opening earlier.

He said: ‘Good news on schools, care homes and outdoor sport but surely we can open pub gardens up in time for the Easter Bank Holiday weekend and not keep wedding couples waiting until May 17th even for a slimmed down event?’

And Essex pub landlord Adam Brooks appeared to be stunned by the announcement.

He said: ‘I said pubs would open in April, I was wrong. I could never have imagined the destruction of an industry on this scale,from a Conservative Government.

‘Outdoor opening with our weather is not being open. It will be a scatter of the odd day taking money and others costing more.’ 

  • Covid cases have risen for the first time in six weeks with 10,641 new infections in 24 hours, while deaths tumbled to 178 in the lowest toll since December 13. The UK’s vaccine rollout also dished out just 150,000 jabs in its worst performance yet;
  • Couples and suppliers must wait until March 8 to have weddings and receptions with up to just six people – with unrestricted big days not set to occur before June 21; 
  • Teaching unions have demanded Boris Johnson scrap his plan to reopen all schools in England on March 8 in favour of a more cautious phased return to classrooms; 
  • Mr Zahawi said that the government was hoping this will be the last ‘severe’ coronavirus lockdown in England; 
  • Labour has insisted it supports schools reopening in full on March 8 despite opposition from teaching unions and Sir Keir Starmer saying there must be a considered approach

The Prime Minister outlined the future for pubs, which was a mixed fortune for the sector

Marstons CEO Ralph Findlay had said reopening should happen 'sooner rather than later'

Marstons CEO Ralph Findlay had said reopening should happen ‘sooner rather than later’

People enjoy takeaway drinks at Leadenhall Market in the City of London back in November

People enjoy takeaway drinks at Leadenhall Market in the City of London back in November

Members of the public have outdoor drinks at Borough Market, London, late last year

Members of the public have outdoor drinks at Borough Market, London, late last year 

People being allowed into pubs is predicted for May at the earliest, but could happen sooner

People being allowed into pubs is predicted for May at the earliest, but could happen sooner

Bar staff pack away chairs and tables after pubs were forced to stop selling alcohol

Bar staff pack away chairs and tables after pubs were forced to stop selling alcohol

One pub declared 'Hallelujah!' over the April 12 garden reopening date announced today

One pub declared ‘Hallelujah!’ over the April 12 garden reopening date announced today

Pubs reported interest in bookings had been sparked by the PM's announcement

Pubs reported interest in bookings had been sparked by the PM’s announcement

Essex publican Adam Brooks said beer gardens being open would not save the industry

Essex publican Adam Brooks said beer gardens being open would not save the industry

Another heatwave for pubs reopening? 

April 2020 was bathed in glorious weather

April 2020 was bathed in glorious weather

April 2020’s warm, dry and sunny conditions made it the sunniest April on record for the UK. 

Long-term weather forecasts are notoriously difficult to pinpoint conditions.

But most are predicting no rain for the week of the reopening and very little cloud.

Temperatures on April 12 look to be topping at a brisk 8C (46F), but a jacket should be enough to still make that first pint a treat.

If drinkers can wait that long, the mercury is said to hit a month high of 12C (53F) on April 27. 

It came as one of the country’s biggest pub chains earlier insisted they were ready to open quicker, pointing to the secure serving methods that succeeded last year.

Marstons chief executive Ralph Findlay stressed ‘It’s not as if we haven’t done this before’. 

The Bridge House Pub, in Penge, said: ‘Hallelujah! April 12 is the date! We are so excited to welcome you back to our lovely and big, open beer garden! Feel safe in our open space where you will be served at your table and enjoy a covered area for your comfort. Roll on April 12th.’

The CRG’s Mark Harper said on Sunday the progress of the vaccine meant hospitality should reopen quicker.

He said: ‘It therefore makes sense to enable pubs and restaurants to open for Easter — where they can be Covid-secure — to avoid them going to the wall and to protect jobs.

‘Once all nine priority groups have been protected by the end of April there is no justification for any domestic legal restrictions to remain.’

Marstons, which operate 1,700 pubs in the UK, said things needed to happen sooner rather than later.

CEO Ralph Findlay told Radio 4: ‘In terms of expectations I just work with the basis we’ve been closed for nine months out of the previous 12.

‘What’s really important to me is that we get some degree of positivity and a route to seeing these restrictions lifted so we can come out with some sort of reasonable timescale.

‘I don’t think I could put a date on that but I do think the case is made for getting this sector up and running and open again sooner rather than later.

‘It’s important to recognise that for many businesses and many hospitality businesses in particular operating with restrictions is very difficult.

‘It’s quite hard to make profit and economically have businesses viable with the kind of restrictions we have been operating under.

‘I would just remind you, we did open last year, it’s not as if we haven’t done this before – we opened on July 4 last year we did well.  

Boris Johnson takes the dog for a run ahead of unveiling his roadmap to unlocking the UK

Boris Johnson takes the dog for a run ahead of unveiling his roadmap to unlocking the UK

Outdoor drinking is possible for April, according to some reports ahead of the roadmap reveal

Outdoor drinking is possible for April, according to some reports ahead of the roadmap reveal

Currently all pubs and restaurants are closed to customers, in a huge drain on the sector

Currently all pubs and restaurants are closed to customers, in a huge drain on the sector

The road map to recovery: The PM's plan sees pubs shut until at least April 12 after Easter

The road map to recovery: The PM’s plan sees pubs shut until at least April 12 after Easter

Clearly people are cautious, they have a degree of concern, but if you look back at what happened last year actually we opened July, August and September, for much of that period infections did not increase in any scale.’

Emma McClarkin added: ‘With the vaccine rollout continuing apace, now is the time to commit to reopening our pubs in a commercially viable way so that thousands of communities and businesses up and down the country can begin to emerge from this crisis.’

The delay in opening is believed to be to buy time for a study into the effect of the return to school on the R number.

Industry body UK Hospitality, which estimates the sector lost £72 billion in revenue last year and more than one million jobs, last week presented the Government with a ten-point plan to re-open the industry from April 1. 

Another 178 people have died of coronavirus, new figures revealed today adding to 120,757

Another 178 people have died of coronavirus, new figures revealed today adding to 120,757

There have been another 10,641 positive infections, adding to a total of 4,126.150

There have been another 10,641 positive infections, adding to a total of 4,126.150

Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: ‘There is no valid reason for hospitality to be at the back of the queue as data shows hospitality venues are very low risk due to the exceptional investment that businesses have made in creating safe and Covid-secure environments.’

Model-turned-publican Jodie Kidd, who runs The Half Moon in Kirdford, West Sussex, has spent months preparing to reopen. 

She has put up a 22-seater marquee filled with olive trees festooned with lights. She told Sky News: ‘We are Covid-safe, we have accommodated all the restrictions, we are good to go.

‘Now we need a date and guidance for when and how we can re-open – we need time to prepare.’

Chef Jack Stein has spent winter deep-cleaning the Cornish Arms in Cornwall’s St Merryn, a pub he owns with his famous father Rick.

‘We’ve given the pub a lick of paint, we’ve just bought a marquee, we’re doing everything we can to maximise our outdoor space,’ he said. ‘We’re raring to go.’

Des Gunewardena, chief executive of the D&D London group that includes former Conran restaurants Bluebird, Quaglino’s and Le Pont de la Tour, said he is planning a re-opening campaign to give his restaurants’ terraces and rooftop courtyards a new look.

Each will be given the theme of a popular holiday destination – with trees, floral displays, live music, cocktail trolleys and alfresco barbecues – to cheer up customers who cannot travel abroad. 

‘It’s like the end of the war – it’s a new start and we will re-open with enthusiasm to look forward. There is a huge demand by customers to get out socialising again,’ he said. 

 Greg Mulholland, Campaign Director of the Campaign for Pubs said: ‘Despite this being the third lockdown and with pubs having been closed for such a huge proportion of the last year, the Government has still not given any certainty for publicans as to when they may be able to finally, properly open their pubs again, which is disastrous for their businesses but also for mental health.

‘We all accept the need to control the spread of Covid until vaccinations reach a certain level, but the Government keeps moving the goalposts and its pubs that are being hardest hit by that. 

‘It’s disappointing that today’s announcement was made without any indication of what further support will be provided for pubs to get them through this crisis. The Chancellor must announce this as soon as possible and before the Budget and it must be adequate or there will be many publicans who just won’t be able to continue racking up debts and pubs will start to close.’  

Dawn Hopkins, Vice Chair of the Campaign for Pubs and a Norwich publican said: ‘Publicans are dismayed that yet again this Government doesn’t seem to understand the reality of the desperate situation for so many publicans, with months without income and for many, mounting debt. Outdoor opening is simply not viable for the vast majority of pubs, so grants must be continued until pubs can open properly again, indoors and without unnecessary rules’.

‘The Government needs to urgently announce a proper package of support to get pubs through this crisis, or it will go down in history as the Government that destroyed the Great British Pub.’

People reacted to the news on social media with joy. Several posted memes about how much of a celebration it will be.

Others seemed confused as to why pubs were going to be reopened before gyms.  

One social media user said: ‘The fact pubs are going to reopen before gyms shows the current state of modern Britain.’ 

Some joked about the time the pubs were opening, with one quipping: ‘ Pubs reopen April the 12th? That’s a Monday. What sort of psycho sets a Monday as a pub reopening day!?’

But not everyone was happy about the announcment with some expressing fear and concern about people not following social distancing measures.

A Twitter user said: ‘Really not looking forward to the pubs reopening phase after lockdown, so many people are gonna be crowded into my pub and they’re not gonna wanna follow the rules and it’s all making me so anxious.’ 

 Expert claims Britain could ALREADY have herd immunity amid huge 82% reduction in Covid infections in just six weeks with 17million vaccinated and one in five carrying antibodies

ByJames Robinson for MailOnline

A leading academic has today said herd immunity could be a factor in the huge drop in Covid cases in the UK, as it was announced more than 17million Britons have now been vaccinated, while 1 in 5 people in England are already said to have coronavirus antibodies.

Infection figures in the UK have tumbled in the past six weeks, falling 82 per cent – from 68,053 new cases reported on January 8, to 12,057 on February 18.

It comes as figures published today show there have been 9,834 new Covid cases – a fall of 10 per cent on last week.

Meanwhile, nearly one in five adults in England – the equivalent of 8.3million people – had Covid antibodies at the beginning of February, a major surveillance study revealed this week. 

A leading academic has today said herd immunity could be a factor in the huge drop in Covid cases in the UK, as it was announced more than 17million Britons have now been vaccinated

A leading academic has today said herd immunity could be a factor in the huge drop in Covid cases in the UK, as it was announced more than 17million Britons have now been vaccinated

The prediction could heap pressure on the Government to end the current lockdown, with Boris Johnson set to outline his road-map for ending restrictions on Monday

The prediction could heap pressure on the Government to end the current lockdown, with Boris Johnson set to outline his road-map for ending restrictions on Monday

A THIRD of all English adults have had a Covid jab boosting hopes of a swift end to lockdown – but Matt Hancock says ‘time needs to be taken’

A third of all adults in England have now been vaccinated against coronavirus, Matt Hancock revealed today – as he insisted that the lifting of the lockdown must be done carefully.

The Health Secretary revealed that one-in-three people over 16 had now been given on of the life-saving jabs, a boost to the country ahead of Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown that will be unveiled tomorrow.

Mr Hancock confirmed this morning that every adult in the country will be offered at least one dose of a Covid vaccine by the end of July.

The Government previously said it hoped to reach all those aged 18 and over by the autumn, but Mr Johnson aims to greatly accelerate the successful campaign.

Mr Hancock also confirmed that everyone over 50 will be offered at least a first dose by April 15, rather than by May, as previously suggested.

But he warned that the Government would take its time lifting the coronavirus lockdown, saying it was ‘right to be cautious’ with 20,000 people still in hospital.

Speaking to Times Radio today he said coronavirus restrictions will be eased with ‘weeks between the steps’, suggesting that after schools reopen on March 8 there may be few other changes before April.

Mr Hancock also said social distancing measures and the wearing of face coverings is likely to remain for a while.

Asked earlier bout the speed of the lockdown lifting, he told Sky’s Ridge on Sunday: ‘It is right to be cautious, it is incredibly important. There are still almost 20,000 people in the hospital with Covid right now. Almost 20,000.

‘The vaccination programme whilst clearly going very well, will take time to be able to reach all people who have significant vulnerability, especially because we also need to get the second jab to everybody.

‘So we have got time that needs to be taken to get this right, the PM will set out the roadmap tomorrow and he will set out the full details, taking into account that we need to take a cautious but irreversible approach, that’s the goal.’

And today it was announced more than 17million of Britain’s most vulnerable residents had received their first dose of the Covid vaccine since the UK’s jab rollout began.

One leading epidemiologist, who asked not to be named having previously suffered abuse for airing their views on the effectiveness of lockdown, said they believed more than 50 per cent of the UK could now have some protection against the virus. 

And the professor said the huge drop in recent infection figures could be a result of the UK reaching its herd immunity threshold – where the number of people with protection against the virus outweighs its ability to spread among the population.

The prediction could heap pressure on the Government to end the current lockdown, with Boris Johnson set to outline his road-map for ending restrictions on Monday.

And it follows similar suggestions in America, where one top doctor told the Wall Street Journal this week that the US could achieve herd immunity ‘by April’. 

Speaking to MailOnline, the academic said: ‘It’s a strong possibility that we could already have it (herd immunity), not just in the UK.

‘It is possible that is what is having an impact. With the vaccine, we do not have the data yet, apart from some data from AstraZeneca, to show if it stops transmission.

‘The vaccine, at the moment it seems, is protecting people from going to hospital and that’s what you need.

On the possible impact of lockdown, the professor said: ‘I could create a model which shows that this is down to lockdown or I can create one which says it is down to herd immunity.

‘The likelihood is it is could be down to both. 

‘But the Government is continuing its messaging which is to stay in lockdown, which causes other problems and could impact on herd immunity.’

Herd immunity, the professor said, would not stop Covid completely because the virus is ‘here to stay’.

But they said it would keep Covid-19 at a manageable level within the community – like with other forms of coronavirus and the flu. 

‘That’s the destination. If we can get to a place where there are no deaths and we are living with Covid-19, which is what we do with other diseases and with other coronavirus forms which people have not heard of – for exactly that reason,’ the professor added. 

It comes as a US doctor claimed that America will have ‘herd immunity by April’.

Dr Marty Makary, from the prestigious Johns Hopkins University, said he believes the US could be just months away from herd immunity.

And, writing in a Wall Street Journal editorial, the top doctor said America was ‘racing toward an extremely low level of infection’.

He believes when the number of Americans vaccinated is combined with the number of people who may already have been infected, that the number of people with some form of Covid immunity is high. 

‘At the current trajectory, I expect Covid will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life,’ he wrote in Wall Street Journal last week.  

His comments come after cases in the US tumbled by 77 per cent over the past six weeks. The country is not in a nationwide lockdown, with states and cities setting their own Covid rules.

However many areas, including densely populated New York, have lifted restrictions, with bars and restaurants open, while states such as Delaware are allowing indoor activities of up to 50 people to take place.

In the UK, which has been in lockdown since early January, infection figures have fallen by 82 per cent in the last six weeks – from 68,053 new cases reported on January 8, to just 2,057 on February 18. 

The percentage of the population who have already had Covid-19 is also similar between the UK and the US.

More than 4million people in the UK have tested positive for Covid since the pandemic began – around 7 per cent of the UK’s population.

In America, more than 28million Americans have tested positive – around 8.5 per cent of the overall population. 

In terms of vaccination rollouts, the UK is further ahead than the US in terms of percentage of the population vaccinated.

Britain has already vaccinated more than 17.2million of its most vulnerable residents since December – more than a quarter of the population.

The US has vaccinated around 61million of its 328million residents, around 18.9 per cent of the population. 

Across the globe cases fell by 16 per cent last week and have been in decline for over a month. 

World Health Organization (WHO) figures show the number of new Covid cases fell by 16 per cent worldwide last week to 2.7million. 


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